Uncategorized

Prayer

42965837_109557796615757_2256546040334938280_n

Worry is a big enemy of mine.  I fight it all the time.  There are so many things that seem to pile up on my shoulders and all of them are greater than me.

My sweet sister/friend and prayer partner here in Belgium and I decided to list out our biggest burdens on our hearts last week.  They amounted to 7 prayer requests that all need a miracle to be answered.  Every. Last. One. None of them can be answered with human intervention.  We feel helpless.  God IS NOT.

In the heaviness of this season, I have gone back and reminded myself of the many miracles that God has done in the last few years after I called out in prayer.

22 members of Hary’s family freed from war in Syria.

Miraculous changes in the girls’ school.

Friends’ healings.

Hary’s change in work schedule after his job said they would NEVER give him a different contract.

My sister-in-law’s safe travel to Sweden.

Those 4 nieces and nephews ability to move to Sweden with their mom after their dad died.

God’s provision, like He promised Hary and I, to buy a ministry house and provide for repairs.

Those are the top on my list.  Remembering seems healthy…hope giving.  Because sometimes we walk through dark tunnels of life and wonder when the light will appear.  We are in that tunnel now.

Hary and I get up every morning now and read a Psalm together.  My heart felt so down the first day we read together…and the second.  But what God whispered to me through reading David’s words every morning is that it’s okay to ask the hard questions.  It’s okay to wonder when rest will come.  It’s okay to ask Him to stop the ungodly actions around us.  And it is healing to remember what God has done and then believe that I will sing His praises over these situations in the future…even when the present is hard.

We are thankful that He is still with us.  He is growing my trust (just happened to the be the word He spoke over me when we were in process of buying the ministry house).  We are glad to know that in the weariness of the moment we can rest in Him.  And we are blessed for the worldwide community He has given us to pray for and with us.  Prayer…better than worry everyday!

ministry · Uncategorized

What’s Been Going On…

I realize that I am behind.  I feel like that in more than one area of life.  Things have gotten hard.  Life has become heavy.  Needs much greater than ourselves are all around us.  Our hearts get heavy.

But here are some photos that prove things are still happening.  God is still moving.  We can still see His hand among us.

On April 21, we had an open house for the ministry house.  We mainly opened the doors for those Western friends who have loved, supported and prayed for us.  We wanted to include them in all the work that has been done and encourage them to partner together in the kingdom work in Antwerp.  It was a beautiful day.  Even my lifelong sister/friend, Carrie, surprised me and flew over from the States and waited on my doorstep until I got home.

 

In early May, we hosted 2 pastors and worship leader from the Arab world.  Lydia, who is Lebanese but just happens to live in Burleson, TX where I last lived in the States, is well known in the Arab church.  She has been singing on youtube and Christian TV for decades.  2 pastors traveled with her and one of their European stops was a 3 day stay in Antwerp.  We also hosted Lydia in our home where we got to know her better…behind the scenes.

 

Mother’s Day happened and my husband ordered some fresh chocolate dipped strawberries and macarons hand made by an Assyrian friend.  We also entered the month of Ramadan.  Our neighborhood is primarily Muslim, so during this month, we feel the changes in the atmosphere as people fast and dress in much more cultural fashion.  (The picture was taken on our little street.) Even the children sense the changes.  In the midst of all this, Hary became friends with a Syrian Orthodox priest.  We enjoyed a visit from him and his wife in our home.  He happens to carry special handmade loaves of bread, packed with biblical symbolism, for the Lord’s Supper.

 

God continues to work around many of those we know and love.  At the beginning of May, I was blessed to baptize Maria-Grace’s teacher in our ministry house.  It was a special day.  I continue to walk through a discipleship study with her.  Another mom from the girls’ school, where I volunteer a lot and lead a prayer group, also decided to get baptized at the end of May.  We went down to a river and enjoyed a day of celebration together.  Not a bad way to bookend a month!

 

And Hary turned another year older on 3 June.  He’s 44…or so I have to keep reminding him.  We always enjoy a small celebration with the girls.  We were exhausted after hosting a 3 day conference, so we enjoyed a nice home cooked meal of salmon, shrimp and sushi.  There were candles and presents.  The girls picked out a Superman theme…declaring that Baba is our Superhero!

 

Those are some of the beautiful highlights in the last month and a half.  We see God is working and are reminded how good it is to look back and see all that He has done!

Family · ministry · Uncategorized

Brokenness

Brokenness-3Today is Good Friday.  As I have so gently reminded my children, the goodness in today came after we understood the price that had been paid for us.  Otherwise, there was nothing particularly good about this day.  It was filled with pain and suffering for a broken world.

Brokenness.  Recently I was sitting around a table and a common theme that was shared concerned brokenness.  Some of us were broken (most of us have been at some point in our lives) and many of us were doing our best to bring the healing light of Jesus to others who have been broken inside the church.  Sadly, many of our stories were not about people who have been hurt by the world, but more often than not, the church has not been the place of healing, love and restoration that it should be in Christ, but it has spoken a voice of rejection or condemnation to those who are a precious part of the Body.

How do you speak hope to those who have been hurt by the church?

With that same group of people at the table, one man reminded us of the last miracle that Jesus performed before His crucifixion.  Remember Jesus in the garden with His followers?  Remember that hot-tempered disciple, Peter (who would be drastically transformed on the day of Pentecost but at this moment was still operating on his own)? Peter, who was most likely aiming to cut off the soldiers entire head, cuts off an ear trying to prevent the arrest of Jesus.

What did Jesus do?

He picks up that ear and puts it back on.  He heals the soldier.  Or as the wise man at the table reminded us…Jesus heals what one of His followers has messed up. 

It really isn’t a new thing that Jesus’ followers are messing up stuff and Jesus has to intervene on His own behalf.  Today, we are encouraged to become the healing agent that Jesus uses today to fix the messes that His followers are still making.

Today, this Good Friday, this reminds me to keep myself in check.  Am I becoming less of myself and more of Him?  Am I sharing the love and light of Jesus within the body of Christ.  Can I be a healing agent for what the church has broken?

The goodness of today is the hope that comes on Sunday.  Jesus is victorious over sin and death.  He is the life-giver and the gentle healer.  He is the restorer, making all things new.

My prayer is that this Passover season is not just a time to wear new clothes and hunt down eggs.  Let this be a time of renewal in Christ.  May it be a season of examination to become more like Him.  And may all that I do and say be a reflection of the great gift that was given me in His resurrection.  May He use me to heal the brokenness of His people. fullsizeoutput_18a7

Uncategorized

Notre-Dame

the-view-from-the-top

I moved to Belgium in 2004.  Paris is just about a 4 hour drive south or just more than a 1 hour super fast train ride.  It is close enough that I have been there literally countless times.  I have certainly seen Notre-Dame at least 10 times.  I have stood on the square and run from the pigeons.  I have taken the same picture of the inside over and over.  I have marveled at the detail on an 850 year old structure.  I have been entertained by the gargoyles and the belief that their scary faces could keep demons out.  I have walked around the backside because I secretly found it more beautiful than the front.

I was so sad to see the church on fire just last night.  As I was reading one article, someone said that all the churches are fire hazards but can remain open because they are places of worship.  Interesting.  He was basically saying that they are all dangerous and uncared for or not maintained.

That sounds about right for an area of the world that is living in a post-christendom society.  The church buildings are empty.  They have become a place to admire the architecture or remembrance of a time gone by but not a place where the activity of God flows.  Even as Notre-Dame burned, sketches of the iconic church with the Hunchback were on the internet.  The story made it famous, not the things of God.

The pictures of the fire saddened me because it is such a famous building, known world-wide that will be forever scarred.  It is history lost.  But my heart is even sadder because it was a message about the church in Europe.

God, restore your church throughout Europe.  Restore your name and open eyes to see that you exist…you are Creator who loves with a never ending, always and forever love. Strengthen the remnant of your church that still lives in Europe.  Set that remnant on fire with the power of the Spirit.  Let it be the light that doesn’t die out and draws people to you.  Amen!

ministry · Uncategorized

Church

We still continue to be thankful to those who came out to help us open a new ministry…one that God has very much been leading and directing and providing for.

As I think about celebrating this Passover and what Jesus did for us in taking the cross and in His resurrection, my heart is to invest in those who are passionate about following Him.  My prayer for this year in ministry is that we won’t have a ministry house full of “church-goers” but we will have those who are Christ followers who gather together…as the light of the city, shining in the darkness.

Our call, every believers’ call, was not one to make  churches, because WE are the church.  Our call is to make disciples.  Jesus only had 12 people, His disciples, who He deeply invested in.  Sometimes we focus on making events to get people through our doors and fill up the pews.  Jesus was always more concerned with pouring into a smaller group and showing them how to go out and change the world around them.  And they did.  Their faithfulness is why mine and yours exists today.

I pray this Passover season that you have someone you are investing in.  You should always be pouring into someone.  Let’s go together and make disciples.

Immigrant Life · Uncategorized

Macedonia

 

This morning, the girls and I got up at 3:30…far too early for any of us…to get on an airplane and fly back home from the last 5 days in Macedonia.  It was our first trip to this country and we went to meet up with our missionary family.  While the adults had meetings, the children got to have fun at the zoo, a museum, the movies and just relaxing and being third culture kids together.

Phoebe is 8 now and she is having a difficult time with all the “good-byes” she has said in her short little life.  Just a few weeks ago, some friends visited us at our home.  The girls enjoyed every minute of being with our friends and yet Phoebe, in particular, was broken with the good-bye.

It happens every time Taytah (my mom) leaves.  The tears come until they just dry up with her exhaustion.  “Why does she always have to leave?” is the question Phoebe asks almost every time.

Last night as we settled into our beds at the hotel, we had already said good-bye to almost everyone in our group of 25 and Phoebe’s heart asked, “Why does it hurt so much when we leave?” No one likes the separation part but third culture kids (those who are raised in a place that is different from their parents’ home country) often struggle with endings.

While life as a TCK can be heartbreaking at times, they are also some of the best and most cultured kids to hang out with.  They are all multi-lingual and understand world history, art, music and other cultures better than others.  They are friendly and have learned quickly how to make new friends.  They seem to mature faster in so many areas and they are resilient beyond understanding some days.

TCK-Table-2They are some of the most well traveled kids with a passport full of stamps.  I used to count how many countries I had been to and lost count several years ago.  Sometimes Phoebe and I talk about all the places she’s been…Belgium, USA, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, England, Italy, Spain, Morocco, Israel, Palestine and Macedonia are all on the list and our 4 year old’s list of places looks nearly the same.

They are adventurous and they explore the world but that only means that their world is so much larger than the one I grew up in and it makes saying good-bye so much harder because you never know when you will be able to say hello again.

God didn’t promise us an easy life.  We, as parents, don’t just make a decision to follow where Jesus leads as if we are unaware of our children. Jesus calls families out, mindful of an 8 year old and a 4 year old as much as He is me and Hary.  We are blessed with the bigness of our world and together we walk through the harder times, hanging on to the hope we will always see those we love again.

Uncategorized

Celebration

Sunday night was the official opening of our new ministry.  We held a special service and invited people who have a heart for what God is doing in this work.  There was music, testimony, encouragement, prayer and fellowship.

About midday on Sunday, Hary and I began to get a little nervous about the number of people who would come into the not-so-big ministry house.  Turns out around 150 (including children) came that evening.  Every seat (and there were 94) was taken.  The children’s area was filled.  The kitchen and office had people standing.  And outside, where the windows were opened, people listened in.

The service lasted about 2 hours and then there was tea, coffee, cookies and baklava for everyone! There were hugs, tears, congratulations given for what God is doing and will do!!

My home church in Effingham, IL was a special blessing for this service.  We did some time calculating and found out that our 5pm service was the same time as their 10am Sunday school hour.  So they had a special time of prayer and praise for the ministry we were doing an ocean away.  As we connected through Facebook video the miles seemed to disappear and a reminder that we are the part of one body was very clear.

So we are off…a new ministry has begun and God is at work! I love being a part of what He is doing and seeing His hand at work in and through us!!