A few months ago Children's HopeChest arranged for me to begin emailing with two of the of the girls I would be visiting at the safe house here in Moldova. One of the girls, we'll call her S., is a 17 year old who was brought into the program at age 14 after having been sold into slavery by gypsies. I was heartbroken reading about her story and the types of things she has had to endure so early in life.

As we exchanged emails I felt like S. and I were getting to know each other and I was excited to meet her. I imagined that we would hug and that we would say how nice it was to meet. I imagined that our langauge barriers would make it totally awkward. I imagined that I would see her and my heart would break with sadness.

I was wrong.

Here's what really happened: Alise taught a crochet class (which I totally failed miserably) and taught the girls to make hair ties. S. made this one…

Then S. told our translator that she wanted to give it to me and I swear my heart skipped a beat. Then I sat on the edge of the couch in the meeting room at the safe house while S. took out my pony tail and ran her fingers through my hair. And as she slowly pulled my long curls into a smooth braid I closed my eyes and drank in that moment.

It was nothing like I had imagined. It wasn't awkward or weird, it was tender and beautiful. There weren't any messy language barriers because no words were necessary and nothing about her touch was lost in translation. And surprisingly my heart didn't ache or break with sadness, it was full and spilling over with love and pride and hope.

Life isn't always wonderful here in Moldova but in that moment life was good. So, so good.

 

 

This morning we're leaving for another day of visiting children and will be traveling south to the Bukedea. As we get ready to leave I'm thinking about a passage in Mark that I read yesterday. After four freinds carry their neighbor to meet Jesus for healing scripture says:

He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!” (Mark 2:12 NIV)

Today I pray that we are the multitude. I pray that we see a community lifting each other up and carrying their neighbor. I pray that I we see the type of healing that is undeniably the hand of God. And I pray that when the day is done our team will leave Bukedea totally amazed saying “We have never seev anything like this!”

Will You Pray With Me?

Learn more about Children's HopeChest here.

 

 

I've given birth to three children. I've experienced the beauty of holding a new baby in my arms and looking into her eyes for the first time. I know the love of a mother, the love I feel when my heart is going to burst from joy and pride and love.

I was given the gift of experiencing this kind of new birth again today.

Today I met Beatrice, the gorgeous Ugandan child that I sponsor through Children's HopeChest. Today I looked into Beatrice's beautiful, shy eyes for the first time. I held her in my arms and felt my heart swell with love. I know her and she knows me.

Any doubts I might have had about sponsorship were washed away with this first embrace. Sponsorship truly does work. Really, it does. For the cost of 7 Venti Non-Fat Lattes ($34 per month) I get the honor of investing into a hope and a future. Best. Bargin. Ever.

Beatrice lives in a thatched hut like this one. While we talked today she told me that my sponsorship has changed her life. Because of Children's HopeChest Beatrice could return to school and is provided nurishing meals at her Care Point. She shared that she is now excited about her future (she told me she wants to be a nurse!).

After we talked we prayed. Together. I prayed a blessing on her and her family. She prayed a blessing over me, her “American Mother”. And then I cried.

If you've ever thought about sponsoring a child please consider Children's HopeChest. You can learn more about HopeChest sponsorship here and you can also learn more about how a one time donation of $10 can provide much needed, life saving, mosquito nets for the children I am visiting in Uganda.

*** Please ignore my typos. I'm trying to get this posted before the power goes out again (Oh, I love Uganda!) and and posting without proofing :)

 

 

Here's a little sneak peek at my new blog site! It's totally unpolished and not quite ready but it'll have to do for now because this is happening TOMORROW:

Over the next few weeks (months?) I'll be filling you in on where I've been, why it was important for me to abandon a relatively popular blog and restart from scratch, why I have a new blog name and what The Meeting Tent means, and most importantly how I rediscoverd myself in the quite of the off line world.

Until then, I'm hoping that you'll follow my journey over the next week as I meet with hundreds of Ugandan orphans while traveling with my favorite organization, Childrens HopeChest.

How have you been? What do you think of the new blog look!?

Continue reading »

 

Here's a little sneak peak at my new blog site! It's totally unpolished and not quite ready but it'll have to do for now because this is happening TOMORROW:

Over the next few weeks (months?) I'll be filling you in on where I've been, why it was important for me to abandon a relatively popular blog and restart from scratch, why I have a new blog name and what The Meeting Tent means, and most importantly how I rediscoverd myself in the quite of the off line world.

Until then, I'm hoping that you'll follow my journey over the next week as I meet with hundreds of Ugandan orphans while traveling with my favorite organization, Childrens HopeChest.

How have you been? What do you think of the new blog look!?

Continue reading »

 

 

My friend Alece does this awesome thing every year where she asks everyone to choose one word to live out in lieu of making an empty New Year's resolution. Last year, my word was submit.

I picked a word for this year way back in December and am just now getting around to sharing it. I know it's almost May, but better late than never, right?

This year's One Word is….

Renew

Last year's journey with the word submit was interesting at best. I got stripped of a lot of things I had been holding onto for a long, long time. It still stings. A lot. So, I thought it would be fitting to focus this year on the promise of renewal.

My prayer is that this idea of being renewed will be healing to me. I'm trying to rest in the guarantee that the Spirit is near and waiting to renew my body and my mind and my spirit.

If.

If I am open to it.

If I submit (there's that word again.)

So this year I am going to trust that day by day I am being inwardly renewed. I will not lose heart. I will focus on what is eternal and let loose all of the temporary things that have been holding me back (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).

Renew.

Made new.

Me.

What was your one word this year?

Comment and link your One Word post. I'd love to read it!

 

 

A few weeks ago I learned from Twitter that there are a bunch of people unhappy about Chaz Bono dancing with a woman on Dancing with the Stars.

Last night I learned that a lot of my 2,000+ Twitter followers (most of whom are evangelicals) LOVE Modern Family. I had a constant stream of excited tweets about last night’s season premier.

So, I’m confused… Do conservative Christians take issue with both shows, just Chazz, or do they really not care either way?

Based on my Twitter observations it seems as though conservative evangelicals had more of an issue with Chaz than with Cam and Mitchell adopting another baby on primetime. Maybe because Chaz is transgender? Because DWTS is real and Modern Family is fiction? Because Modern Family is crazy funny where as DWTS is corny and lame? IDK.

Maybe I just follow more liberals.

Thoughts?

P.S. I LOVE Modern Family… even with the new, talking Lily.

I last talked with my friend Sara (@gitzengirl) about three weeks ago. We were planning my trip to Iowa to see her this Thanksgiving. We were both so excited about this long overdue visit. Now, just a few short weeks later, I’m Map Questing my way to Iowa in hopes that I may be able to attend her funeral service.

The Lord can change our plans in an instant.

Sara has been sick, very sick, for a long while, and while we knew that this day would eventually come, I think we had all hoped and prayed that it wouldn’t. At least not for a long time. I received the news that her condition had taken a serious turn about a week ago. It’s been a long week full of lots of tears and heartache for me. But I know that my weepiness and selfish longing for her is not what Sara would want. I hear her in my ear reminding me of God’s goodness, of our hope in heaven, of her peace, and the joy that she experiences every day. That’s our Sara, our consummate encourager.

My best effort to honor Sara in her last days is to try and do exactly what I know she would want me to do: Not focus on the loss of her passing, but rather sing praise and rejoice in the life that she has lived.

Through Sara’s friendship I have had the blessing of learning first hand what “a life lived well” is supposed to look like. I have seen pureness of spirit up close in person. I have been given the priceless gift of experiencing what we were created to be on earth displayed for me through the love of my dear friend.

I have seen humility.

I have seen grace.

I have seen kindness.

I have seen selflessness.

I have seen mercy.

I have seen patience.

I have seen trust.

I have seen forgiveness.

I have seen love. True love. 1 Corinthians 13 style love given freely to me and countless others.

Sara has taught me that living my life well isn’t about me. It’s not about what I do, or what I have, or who I know. Living life well is all about what we choose. Joy. Peace. Love.

Sara, thank you for all of the times you have held my heart, kept my secrets, and prayed over the hopes and dreams of me, my marriage, and my family. I love you more than you will ever know.

If you have a favorite Sara story or blog post of hers please leave it in the comments below so we can all reflect on her well lived life.

 

My friend Alece started a non-resolution revolution of sorts on her blog. Basically, her challenge is to ditch lists and the regret of unkept New Year promises. In exchange she asked that everyone choose one word that they would live, eat, breathe, and walk out during 2011. The only new year’s resolution I have ever kept was to watch more reality TV (I was a smashing success!) so this sounded like a better option for me.

I love the one word idea and I’m thrilled to be focusing on one thing this year. So, here is my one word for 2011:

Submit

This is so fitting for me right now. I’m just returning from a long blog break. I shared that I had to step away from the blog because I felt like I needed to be quiet and listen. What I haven’t shared is how specific God was with me during that time.

When I was at Idea Camp in Las Vegas last September, I facilitated a workshop on the power of confession. I had intended to attend the conference, participate on a panel, do my workshop, hang out with my friends, then return home and blog all about it. I never got to the blogging part. Some of the things that were shared in my workshop hit me in unexpected ways. That was the start of the season of silence.

Basically, during my time away I realized that God was giving me a glimpse of what he wanted me to be doing. The opportunities to speak, write and share my story were only a taste of what he had in store for me. But I realized that I would never be able to experience all that he had for me until I was ready to submit completely. Everything.

Most of what I share is centered around addiction and our recovery journey, about a broken relationship and restoration. However, the truth is there were two specific things that God revealed to me after that workshop that I needed to address:

First, I had gained over 100 pounds during the darkest days of our marriage. Yes, 100. And I’m still carrying that weight around.  Second, I had lost faith in the church after we were asked to leave the church I had attended for years. We were asked to leave because of my husband’s addiction, and I wasn’t sure I would ever be able to fully trust or engage in church community again.

God has been very clear with me… if I want to experience all that he has in store for me I have to address these. If I want credibility when I talk about recovery, I need to surrender and submit.

I came to realize that as long as I still struggle with these two things, I haven’t really recovered.

Here’s the problem: I have a MAJOR pride issue. I’ve spent the last few months looking at the pride in my life and all of the complicated, subtle ways that it manifests itself. Ways that reach far beyond these two things and stretch into almost all that I think and do.

Needless to say, it’s complicated.

So, this year I am focused on submitting. Submitting to accountability about my weight. Submitting to pastoral care to address my church/trust issues. Submitting to the church and other women so I can build and flex my severely underdeveloped trust muscle. Submitting to a process of recovery that may or may not include a therapist and/or a personal trainer. Submitting to a select group of people that have full access to my marriage, my finances, my thoughts, and my actions.

I’m surrendering to God’s will.

I am submitting to his plan, his process, and his people (by the way, that last bit scares the crap out of me).

Submit. My one word.

Pushing past myself.

Leaning into others.

Embracing the truth.

Pursuing God.

Submit.

What is your one word for 2011?


 

I loved reading this tweet over the Christmas holiday. Don’t Ask Don’t Tell needed to go. Needless to say, CitizenLink (a division of Focus on the Family) doesn’t agree.

CitizenLink posted a video interview with Stuart Shepard and U.S. Air Force Col. Bill Spencer discussing the issue. There are a few quotes from the video that I MUST comment on. You can read the quotes and my responses in blue.

“People [in the active military] will look at this issue and say…’I know what I feel morally about homosexuality and having to serve alongside people who now may want to put themselves ahead of that mission, might want to to have their identification come to the forefront as opposed to serve, just to serve as anyone else.’ On the front lines that’s important. When you’re in close quarters, when you’re in combat and bullets are hailing at you, that can be really problematic. You don’t want those second thoughts coming in on the front lines when people are shooting at you. You don’t want anybody having to hesitate wondering about the mission orientation of an openly gay person standing or sitting next to them.”

Now, I will be the first to concede that I have never had to dodge bullets, military or otherwise. However, I don’t think it’s a stretch to think that, should I be in that situation, I’m NOT thinking about your orientation. Again, I’ve never been shot at, but I think it’s a fair guess.

Steward Shephard: “By passing this repeal, essentially there are now going to be folks in the military where self is being placed slightly above service, that they’re being given a little special cover there that they can be open about their sexuality. How does that change the dynamic in the military?”

I have no idea how repealing DADT equals gay service members placing themselves over service. By that are we to assume that openly heterosexual service members are placing their open heterosexuality above service? Sheesh. Col. Spencer’s response is priceless…

Col. Spencer: “Well, really nothing’s changed, homosexuals have probably already served. (Really!? Yes, I bet they probably have.) I served for nearly 29 years, probably alongside some who were gay. I just didn’t know who they were. They put mission ahead of self. Now it’s not just about inclusion. We’ve already had inclusion. Those folks have already been serving. Now it’s about some self-identified label that’s come to the forefront. When you’re in a military that is supposed to fight and win our nation’s wars, that self-identification doesn’t contribute to mission effectiveness. It alters unit cohesion.”

Okay, where to begin? Let’s start with this… Are you kidding me right now?

On inclusion: Yes, we have already had inclusion. Remember when the military was segregated? Harry Truman took a lot of flak when he undid that. I don’t see this as that different.

On self-identified labels: Well, I agree with Col. Spencer on this one. Self-identified labels really do have a tendency to get in the way. For example, here is a list of some of the words I have used to self-identify. More than a few have gotten me into a pickle from time to time: Woman, Mom (and gasp, Working Mom), Wife, CHRISTIAN, Asian (I though about adding fat girl but I won’t go there).

Anyway, the idea that professional military men and women would place orientation (gay or straight) over military service and combat missions makes me sick. Gay service members love their country and take their call of duty just as seriously as their straight counterparts. To assume otherwise is both naive and bigoted.

“If you entered the service knowing that you are a homosexual and that homosexuality is incompatible with military service, then there really wasn’t an issue where you discovered suddenly that you were gay and in the military. It was something that you knew about going in; it was a condition that you agreed to, frankly, when you signed up”

So, according to this logic if you were an African-American looking to enlist pre-WWI attending a segregated Negro Training Camp, filling positions that black soldiers were allowed to fill, and living in segregated living quarters were all conditions that you knew you would have to submit to prior to enlisting. Should these men have continued under these conditions even though they knew what they were getting into before hand? Should segregation not have ended? I don’t get it. Just because DADT existed doesn’t mean it was ever the right thing to do.

You can watch the entire video below if you’d like (or if you want to verify the context).

At the end of the day here is my bottom line (for what it’s worth): I believe that these types of comments are hurtful. And harmful.

They are hurtful to the gay community and most importantly they are harmful to the Gospel message.

In the video Col. Spencer discusses that there is no data to measure whether or not repealing DADT will help or improve the way the military approaches and completes it’s mission. I think the more important question is, will this type of rhetoric about DADT help or improve the way christians carry out the cause for Christ? Will it help us to better share the Gospel message in a fallen world?

I say no, it won’t.

What do you think of the repeal of DADT? What should the christian response be?