Thursday, September 1, 2011

eucharisteo in washing windows

it happened a few months ago, towards the end of Spring,
sitting outside with a buddy enjoying some fro-yo

we noticed an older man walking back & forth along the outside path,
cleaning the store windows that rimmed his path,
with his bucket and squeegee in tow.

the interesting thing was
his constant muttering to himself...
we couldn't make it out,
but he seemed to be in constant conversation.

when he found himself cleaning the window nearest us
i struck up friendly conversation with him
asking, "How ya doin' today?"

he answered with joy,
declaring how blessed he was.
that's positive and encouraging, i thought, if not a bit generic.

but he elaborated upon his assessment
when, unsolicited, he got specific in his thanks.

"this step"
he placed one foot forward.
"this breath"
he inhaled deeply.
"this beat"
his hand patted his chest.

"i thank Him for each and every one.
He doesn't have to give it to me.
this step - thank ya, Lord.
this breath - thank ya, Lord.
this beat - thank ya, Lord."

he literally, after EVERY step or breath he took,
would mutter happily to the sky, as he went about his business:
"thank ya Lord ... thank ya Jesus ... thank ya Lord"

my buddy and i just look at each other
in complete awe.
so moved by his gratitude,
how he poured out his thanks to the Lord.
for the simple things
that most of us don't think twice (even once?) about.

a living, breathing, walking testimony to God's goodness and provision.
a life of moment-by-moment obedience to Psalm 9:1
"I will give thanks to the LORD with my whole heart;
I will recount all of your wonderful deeds."

...recounting His wonderful deeds...

in the early months of 2011 a friend & i read a book together.
neither of us had any idea how deeply it would change our lives:
One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp.

the book is ann's story of
discovering joy

through the means of giving thanks.
not just general, vague thankfulness...
but specific, tangible, moment-by-moment
'recounting His wonderful deeds'.

greek for "thanksgiving",
used when describing Jesus sharing
the 1st communion (or Eucharist) with His disciples.

Christ's body and blood broken & shared for us.
His death giving us life.

and, within eucharisteo - meaning giving thanks,
one finds charis - meaning grace,
and its derivative chara - meaning joy.

a holy trio
of grace, thanks, joy.

she discovered that when she
(1) counted God's graces
(specific, tangible things... big & small... this beat, this breath, this step)
(2) and gave thanks for them
...she found that
(3) He gives her joy in return.

that is how He wants us to live!
experiencing all of life as GIFT, giving thanks, & receiving joy in return.

having just finished that book,
having had my perspective on JOY completely changed...
i saw this man as living Eucharisteo in the flesh.

in the mundane of scrubbing windows
counting each
as God's grace to him,
something worth giving thanks for,
...his joy was radiant.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

holy week tidbits

1. been loving following along with what was happening (chronologically) the last week of Jesus' life. makes it all seem so much more real to think of His last days!

2. been reading along with these devotionals for the last couple weeks (even though they're designed for kids). she is so gifted with words.

3. been listening nonstop to this song. so worshipful. He is worthy of our affection!

4. excited about experiencing my 1st ever messianic Passover Seder tonight. we, covered in the blood of Christ our Passover Lamb: the final sacrifice.

5. anticipating Good Friday night, learning from David Platt about the crucifixion, salvation & the glory of God.

6. then lastly, celebrating this great event on Easter Sunday here.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

testifying about our abba

my church
gave me this great opportunity
to talk about my experience in Africa!
check it out :)

also thinking about these ones today,
grieving their lack of an earthly father...
those kind of wounds cut so deep.
praying that they and i both
more and more and more
grow in intimately knowing
the love of our Heavenly Abba Father.

Monday, April 18, 2011

holy week part 2: alas, and did my savior bleed?

i have been playing this song nonstop for a couple weeks now

check out these beautiful lyrics:

Alas! and did my Savior bleed
And did my Sovereign die?
Would He devote that sacred head
For such a wretch as I?

At the cross, at the cross where I first saw the light,
And the burden of my heart rolled away,
It was there by faith I received my sight,
And now I am happy all the day.

Thy body slain, sweet Jesus, Thine—
And bathed in its own blood—
While the firm mark of wrath divine,
His Soul in anguish stood.

Was it for crimes that I had done
He groaned upon the tree?
Amazing pity! grace unknown!
And love beyond degree!

Well might the sun in darkness hide
And shut his glories in,
When Christ, the mighty Maker died,
For man the creature’s sin.

Thus might I hide my blushing face
While Calvary’s cross appears,
Dissolve my heart in thankfulness,
And melt mine eyes to tears.

But drops of grief can ne’er repay
The debt of love I owe:
Here, Lord, I give my self away
’Tis all that I can do.

Friday, April 15, 2011

holy week

...Christ Jesus,
who, though he was in the form of God,
did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped

made himself nothing,
taking the form of a servant,

being born in the likeness of men.


And being found in human form,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient
to the point of death,
even death on a cross.

[philippians 2:5-8]

Monday, April 11, 2011

Pure Religion: Uganda 2011 with Visiting Orphans from Jennifer Hanson on Vimeo.

Jen made this incredible video that perfectly encapsulates our time.

those lyrics (shared below)...
those sweet memories captured...
all those big brown eyes!!!

just when i thought i had gotten acclimated to being back in the States.
finally felt like i was out of the fog...
i watch this
and my heart nearly bursts -
i want to go back.

but until then,
i give
i write letters
i pray.

but oh how i MISS these sweet faces.

I Refuse

by Josh Wilson

Sometimes I
I just want to close my eyes
And act like everyone's alright
When I know they're not

This world needs God
But it's easier to stand and watch
I could say a prayer and just move on
Like nothing's wrong

But I refuse
'Cause I don't want to live like I don't care
I don't want to say another empty prayer
Oh, I refuse

To sit around and wait for someone else
To do what God has called me to do myself
Oh, I could choose
Not to move but I refuse

I can hear the least of these
Crying out so desperately
And I know we are the hands and feet
Of You, oh God

So, if You say move
It's time for me to follow through
And do what I was made to do
Show them who You are

'Cause I don't want to live like I don't care
I don't want to say another empty prayer
Oh, I refuse

To sit around and wait for someone else
To do what God has called me to do myself
Oh, I could choose
Not to move but I refuse

To stand and watch the weary and lost
Cry out for help
I refuse to turn my back
And try and act like all is well

I refuse to stay unchanged
To wait another day, to die to myself
I refuse to make one more excuse

'Cause I don't want to live like I don't care
I don't want to say another empty prayer
Oh, I refuse

To sit around and wait for someone else
To do what God has called me to do myself
Oh, I could choose
Not to move but I refuse

I refuse
I refuse

Saturday, April 9, 2011

one thing i learned
from the people of Uganda?


...used to want alotta things
all the stuff that's on TV
education, cars & clothes
fashion, lights & jewelry...
[focused on the wrong stuff]
now I got my eyes on You
and now I know that:

God is enough!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Return Ministries

after spending a few days in Jinja
we packed up our little van
and journeyed 3+ hours
to Kampala, Uganda

[i'd say those guys were livin' on the edge]

selling sugar cane roadside
LOTS of traffic in Kampala

finally...we arrived at our destination:
Return Ministries Uganda
check them out their awesome website HERE

we were greeted by these little ones singing :)

this is Pastor Samuel. he runs Return.
such a sweet, humble man FULL of godly vision.

this ministry does so much.
there are orphans living at the Return home.

including these 4 siblings:
Joel, Sam, David, and Esther

[sam and i particularly bonded]

elvis, sam, jimmy

Return also runs a
sponsorship program,
sends kids to school,
hosts a church
feeds kids,
and reaches out to the whole surrounding community.

they are being the hands of Jesus
to the community around them!

they are a relatively new ministry
working SO hard
for the glory of God
and the good of others.

please consider giving a donation
to help sweet ones like Dora & Robert

Friday, April 1, 2011

$9000 Ugandan give-away :)

as is the case with most mission trips,
we all had to raise financial support to help us get to Uganda.
not only were all of our travel expenses met (!)...
BUT as a team we raised a combined overage of

that is a whooole lotta money!
especially with the conversion rates between US & Ugandan dollars,
$9000 in Uganda goes a long, loooong way.

our last night as a team,
we gathered together to decide what to do with all this excess money.
what an amazing privilege this was:
God's people giving to God's people around the world...
we got to assess each orphanage's needs
& decide how to bless each one!

Canaan Children’s Home:
  • one-year sponsorships for 5 older orphans living at Canaan - covers food, care & school fees ($3000 total)
  • one-year scholarship for 1 older teen who has "graduated" from Canaan. this is the only way they can go on to University- this pays for their University fees ($500)
  • gift of $200 for newly-weds and amazing staff members George and Sylvia
  • gift of $100 for our incredible cook Annette who is a sweetheart-and-half and works so hard to send her two children to school (but only gets to see them twice a month)
  • gift of $50 to each of the 7 aunties and uncle at the orphanage (the incredible people who live with and help raise all the children at Canaan)
sweet Peace - one of the auntie's at Canaan's

  • 1 full-sized loom, or wherever most needed ($900)
  • double supply of material/thread for looms ($400)
  • the above is used for the branch of the ministry that helps rehabilitate prostitutes by teaching them a trade skill - namely creating beautiful scarves, rugs, etc
Rose, one of the sweet ladies working here.
you can check out one of her rugs in my living room :)

Return Uganda:
  • final term of school for the children sponsored through Return Uganda ($1050) - this was in addition to the 2nd term of school we already provided for them!!
  • gift of $400 for the feeding program that provides meals to over 300 children
  • six months rent for the ministry's house where these children live ($600)
beautiful, sweet Esther who lives at this orphanage (behind her)

  • gift of $1000 to be used where most needed (probably for food and to cover school fees of children whose parents can't afford it, which is the vast majority of the 400 kids who attend the school)
some of the sweet faces at Royal Hope

a few side-notes:
1. there are other donations (part of the $9000) that aren't included here, as we're trying to wait on a few things to settle before we delegate everything.
2. there are ministries mentioned here i haven't discussed yet. i promise i will!

3. mucho thanks to Jen for letting me snag her neatly compiled list!

isn't it awesome to see how far $9000 can go?!

and to think, all this was in addition to dozens of bags worth of donations including:
-arts & crafts supplies
-sports equipment

as well as donations providing for school fees and 30+ new mattresses
for the kids at Return Uganda!

new clean mattresses! this is the boys' room.

THANK YOU to everyone who gave!
Look what the Lord provided THROUGH YOU!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Sing praises to God, sing praises!
Sing praises to our King, sing praises!
[psalm 47:6]

I will bless the Lord at all times;
His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
[psalm 34:1]

You have turned my mourning into dancing;
You have loosed my sackcloth
and clothed me with gladness,
that my glory may sing Your praise
and not be silent.
o Lord my God,
i will give thanks to You forever!
[psalm 30:11:12]

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

i saw what i saw and i can't deny it...

"i saw what i saw and i can't deny it..."
and so, among other things, i blog about it :)

but i'm not the only one!

here are some of my team-members' blogs
for those of you who'd like to read more/see more pics: (Kim) (Shelby) (Steph) (Jenn) (Faith) (Diana) (Brenda) (Simon/Amanda)

help these kids know they're loved...

here's my lil "family"
at Canaan Children's Home.
in front we have Owen and Dorcus,
in the back we have Peter & Jotham (in the plaid).

Canaan Children's Home is really a special place.
for an orphan, it seems about as good as it could get.

the people that are working there are doing some amazing things. aunties each caring for roughly 25 kids. they are BUSY and have their work cut out for them! laundry, cleaning, taking care of the sick ones...

so what we were able to do, was come in and be reinforcements. and just give love! endless hugs and kisses ...that's what the kids crave more than anything. more than any item or material thing. attention and love is what they crave.

that's what breaks my heart the most. now, i am SO grateful their basic needs are getting met: rice & beans at every meal, a safe place to lay their heads, godly men & women teaching and providing for them. but what breaks my heart is that they're not getting the 1 on 1 care that they so crave...

who's there to tuck each one into bed?
who's there to look into each pair of eyes,
and tell them they are special or brave or beautiful?
who's there to listen deeply and hear their story

and remind them of how loved they are?

it hurts my heart to think about. that's why i believe adoption is such a beautiful, redemptive, important part of healing this orphan crisis.

but for the kids that aren't adoptable right now... what about them?

1) pray for them. seriously. it makes a difference. these kids believe in the power of prayer. pray that they will feel loved and secure. that they'll know their worth in Christ. that they'll trust God as their Abba Father.

2) sponsor a kid. the money goes to a general pool that provides money for food, money for school fees, money to help keep Canaan's going. but the biggest thing: i can't even convey how special it makes them feel to have an individual sponsor. i heard these kids talk about sponsors alot. they LOVE to write letters and would probably write you endlessly. [seriously, i probably was given over a dozen of the most precious notes EVER from these kids at Canaan's.]

you can sponsor a kid (anywhere between age 2 and 18) while they live at Canaan's. after that, there's a special need for people to pay "scholarships" of $500 to send a Canaan grad to University for a year! otherwise, they cannot afford it and do not go. this is a huge blessing.

if you're interested in sponsoring/scholarshipping a Canaan's kid let me know. i can put you in touch with my friend Brenda who works for Visiting Orphans. she's communicating with them back at Canaan's to get sponsorships set up. you can see pictures and read stories about specific kids (!) on this page, just click on "Sponsor a Child".

sponsoring a kid says to them "you are seen". you are important. you matter. someone notices you. someone is praying for you - by name!
it speaks
worth and value into their life.

it looks like my Mom and i will be sponsoring my "son" Peter together.
i am so excited about this way to partner with him... a tangible way to show him how much we love him. plus, he is gonna be one heck of a penpal :)

Monday, March 28, 2011

stuck in a moment, and i can't get out of it... [thanks U2]

when i think back on my trip,
there are a few special moments
that i particularly treasure:

1. one early morning i was reading my bible on the steps outside our room.
little Owen came up (as always) and sat down beside me.
i asked him if he'd like to pray together & he eagerly said yes, no fear at all.
we held hands
as i prayed out loud in English,
then he in Lugandan.

i so wonder what he was telling God in his sweet prayer.

i love that our God is Lord of every tribe, tongue, and nation.
sitting there praying in 2 languages with Owen
was such a glimpse of Heaven for me.

Owen is 7 years old. he's lived at Canaan for 2 years.
his details are not mine to share, but they break my heart.

Owen has the most penetrating eyes in the world.
he's the one looking right at me in the above photo.
his eyes were always looking.
always searching. always watching.
for love? stability? acceptance?
could he find me? was i still there? would i remember him?

2. another of the moments occurred one night after dinner.
after finishing, we decided to have some worship as a team.
Devin started playing his guitar, and we started singing.
a few songs in, i felt compelled to ask if we could invite the children in
to sing with us. of course! thanks Holy Spirit :)

i stood at the door held open
and watched delightedly as kids just FLED inside
"wanna sing with us?"
was all i had to say
and watch the kids RUN in.

each child found a seat
(mostly in our laps)
my Dorcus, the little girl below, pictured with my Owen,
found her seat in my lap.

i will never forget singing to the Lord
while holding her in my arms
and how when i'd lift my hands in praise,
she'd put her little hands in mine.

3. oh, my Peter. sweet, sweet Peter.
13 years old and heart of gold.
we connected from day 1,
with lots of conversation.
he gave me notes & drawings
and his own schoolbook
translating English to Lugandan
so i could keep learning :)

he refers to himself as
'your son Peter'

Peter is so bright, so smart, with such dreams.
he loves the Lord, and early on began asking me
"if i would pray over him??"

as we were leaving the last day
i seized the opportunity
and him
as i literally grabbed him
"we've got to pray!"

i held him
and prayed for him and his life
asking for blessing and that he'd know how LOVED he is...
then got on the bus.

praying over Peter
was the last interaction
i had with a child in Uganda

i wouldn't have wanted to end it any other way.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

now, it's PERSONAL.

God has been growing my heart for the orphan the past couple years.
He pricked my heart with the staggering numbers
[147 million orphans worldwide]

then numbers became faces
when He started exposing me to specific stories
of adoption & orphan care ...

on this trip
faces became friends
and that has made all the difference.

the lyrics in this song are spot on.
now that i have seen,
i am responsible.
faith without deeds is dead.
now that i have HELD you
in my own arms,
i cannot let go...

play this video, listen, and scroll down to look at the friends i made...
now, it's personal.