Wednesday, December 14, 2011

I Celebrate the Day

It's the music in the background playing as he lays to sleep that captivates my heart. The song has played in our car numerous years as my husband's Christmas favorite, yet for the first time as I sing it to my baby I begin to whimper in the dark room.

The piano begins striking me as usual, but this time the words hit me harder than usual. God, are you seeing me as the same from last year. I would say, "no!" You have chipped away at parts of me that I didn't want chipped. You have plucked things out from me that I would have preferred left in. You even tore down walls around my heart that I give thanksgiving for. The walls of misunderstanding, the walls of naivety to what I assumed, and You gave me a new heart for a people I didn't really know I could have.

I learned to throw away my perceptions on appearances, on love, on gratitude... on joy.

It has been a year of transformation in my life and with new convictions surfacing over moments. One of the greatest thanks is giving me a husband so full of understanding and sensitivity to these changes in my heart.

Was it the words of what You realized?

And the first time, that You opened your eyes
Did you realize that You would be my Savior
And the first breath, that left Your lips
Did You know that it would change this world forever

The words create a lump in my throat because I wonder, what did He fully know that night? Did He fully comprehend His fully man, fully God nature? Did He know that night?

Did He?

Every night reading scripture leading up to this moment God's plan was so divine, so holy, so planned. From the beginning before He was born from the virgin He knew that He would come down to be the ultimate sacrifice, but once placed here on the earth did He know? What does a fully man/fully God nature know at infancy? I believe He knew because the favor of God was upon Him.

However, those were not the part of the song that got me weeping on my nearly asleep two year old. It was the sound of sleigh bells, the strokes of the keys, and these words:

To look back and think that
This baby would one day save me
In the hope that what You did
That you were born so that I might really live
To look back and think that 
This baby would one day save me

And I, I celebrate the day 
That You were born to die
So I could one day pray for You to save my life

We forget. We read scripture of Christ as a man, and we forget that HE IS MAN! He was tempted; He was a laborer; He had friends; He had brothers; He was PERFECT! He came as a baby. Even though his parents knew what he would become they still did not understand who HE really was. He is, I AM!

It's hard to imagine that I celebrate the day that He was born to die so that I could pray for Him to cleanse me from my sin, so that I could pray for Him to save me from myself. I proclaim my observation of this day. It's not about a man in a red suit eating cookies and milk. No, I celebrate a day that God came down fully man/fully God to trade his righteousness for shame. This is truth. It is a truth that makes me weep over my baby. I weep over the words that make me remember.

God continue to mold me into your imagine. Forgive me for not remembering. Thank you for your grace, your mercy, your love! You are holy; You are just; You are GOD!

If you haven't heard this song, here it is:

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Last Christmas I gave you a net...

I remember this time last year reading, praying, and wanting to change my life during the Christmas season. I was sick of the hustle and bustle of gift giving, angry people, and just the loss of focus that materialism had on me, friends, family, and those surrounding me.

It was a time for change.

It was a time for action.

I glanced at the wall in my living room smiling at my boys...

I remember swooping Luk into my arms, sitting on the couch, and starting browsing our catalog.

"What do you think? We could do a cow?
Or two goats?

Or we could do 10 nets? What do you think?"

"What else is there?"

"School supplies, immunizations (shots), helping start a new business"
"I think we should do nets."

"Why do you want to do the nets?" (I was secretly hoping for the small business launch for moms.)

"Well, I don't like being bit by mosquitos. It gets itchy, it hurts, and I don't want that to happen to the people."

Then it occurred to me that my then four year old related to people from a different nation. We began discussing how the bite can cause more than just an itch and red spot, but a sickness called Malaria that was killing people when there was a cure for it! It's never too young to explain that life is not just how you experience it, but the way it effects the nations. Last Christmas, we bought ten nets, ten or more saved by a sheer netting that prevented a bite.

This year, I don't know.

Will we give a safe water to a family for their entire life?

I don't know. I'm hoping that a Smith's precious sister will be registered so that we can sponsor her. After all their mother promised and held me tight at the thought back in September. I don't know.

I do know that our boys got extra gifts from us, and I wonder what the letter will share. Their birthdays were filled with new shoes to trek through miles on the graveled road and rainforest terrain to get to their church, sweaters to brave the cold, and food to ease the hunger pains. What will Christmas bring to them?

Do you have a heart of compassion for the people? Do you see that giving up that Dance Star Mickey will save six children? When we realize that our children can absorb compassion from young childhood and they want to save someone his or her age, what a gift! What a lesson you giving!

Give the gift of compassion this year because the beauty in this gift giving is that not only will you be changed but so will our people!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

My Holiday Spirit: Laden

My house is anything but quiet today; it is anything but quiet on most days. Inside is the ring of talk, screaming, and the evening snores at the end of a hectic day. There are moments that I pause, the holiday season speeding by not waiting for me to catch up, and I wonder what I am doing wrong? I stare at our Christmas Tree laden with the Word, to be weighed down, to draw water! Isn’t that what the Word does? It draws everlasting water to our thirsty souls. To find that HE is the only one to quench that drought that tries to dwell in our inner most being. It battles with the Holy Spirit while our sin tries to spread through out vessels so that we can feel like we will NEVER have healing.

I stop for once to just listen to the music playing, and I am reminded of the beauty behind the keys, and it brings me back to just listening, "The Promise." The song’s name and I can’t help be thing of the Ultimate Promise that has been the focus of each night before laying in bed,

There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. And his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD. Is 11:1-3

I close my eyes, and I just listen to that promise, the only one that can bring truth to my life. What am I doing wrong, when I lose my temper, when I complain, or when I just don’t want to deal with the chaos? I crank up the music that I have been ignoring for some time, "Waiting Here For You" the keys each touching a part of me that I want to refine, I need to refine because deep down I know what a failure I am without Him.

One evening, I am told I love the younger more than older. Pain sears my heart from the mouth of a child, he later apologizes saying,

“I know you love me!”

It’s hard for me to believe he believes it.

“Do you, do you know?”  Heart aching knowing I know!

“Yes, because you have the Holy Spirit living inside you!”

Silence, water filling in my weary eyes, what? The saying out of the mouth of babes, but I know that there is only One that is gracious enough to let those words spill out of his mouth. Then the Lord opens my eyes to His desire to use me. I don’t understand it, nor do I try because within it all lies a woman broken and fallen. It is a woman that loses her temper, cries in defeat, and I grumble at my circumstance. Then I read the words,

Yes, Lord. My only desire that through it ALL it ALL points to You!

I go to the Word so that it may laden my soul,

Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy; you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy. 1 Peter 1:13-16

I go knowing that my soul will be weighed down in truth, that my spirit will remember that GRACE will be given to me through Christ. THE PROMISE! 

He will come from the line of Jesse.

He will present rest to the Spirit of the Lord.

He will be wise and full of understanding.

He will give counsel and might.

He will have knowledge.

He will fear the Lord!

He will delight in the fear of the Lord!

As His obedient child I strive to fight the conformity of my past, and my passion is to be holy through HIM! Lord, what am I doing wrong in all this? I know. I start to conform to the old me: self-reliance, self-seeking, SELF. What I’m doing wrong is not remembering YOU reliance, YOU seeking, YOU!

I don't refine, He refines!

Thank you, Lord for your promise, your use of me, and for letting me disappoint to point to you! Thank you for your constant wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge, and example of fear. Thank you for loving me enough laden my spirit, for drawing me to your water, and for calling me to your purpose!

Continue to shine, Lord.

Continue to convict, Lord.

Continue to give grace, Lord.

I would be concerned with my life if this weren’t the case. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Thanksgiving Day

As apart of 4H Country Clovers, I signed Luk up to work the Community Thanksgiving Meal. It was something that we were planning to do, but with being a member of 4H it gave Luk a community service event for his club. My husband stayed outside taking Logan to the playground while Luk and I stayed behind handing out rolls for the take out orders that were being made.

When I look at our live, I look for the thanksgiving in it all, it is through this that true joy is exhibited in our lives. I want to have a life of joy, and it is through these times to give for what I have been given that my cup runneth over.

Lord, thank you for giving me thanksgiving, joy, love!

Here is our time of service (thanks Send Me Missions for the photos)

Monday, November 28, 2011

Our Tree covered in Truth

It's a life of thanks (eucharisteo) when we immerse ourselves in thanks for what He has given to us because when we acknowledge that "all is grace," joy fills your life. Our house made the decision to make Christmas more meaningful, more than the lights, more than the gifts, but a time to just reflect on Him. "A Jesus Advent Celebration" where everyday we are reminded of His truth that He has left for us.

Last year, we started slowly with just reading the book daily, making the tree full of our pictures, and giving to through the Compassion catalog. This year we continue with this, with some new traditions added on.

Our Cradle to Cross Wreath: Our journey to the center of His birth and the truth behind Christmas. As Logan gets older we will be moving to the candles, but for now his overly grabby hands have turned our wreath into our picture holder.

Then our tree, it took a downsize as far as height and girth, but the message surrounding it has grow in measures. We have covered our little Alpine with truth from Scripture. The message of His life from "in the beginning..."

Tonight, we surround our tree with truth. We surround our thoughts of His truth.

Monday, November 21, 2011

The Journey of a Life Time

If you've read my posts in the past you should know that meeting Smith left an indentation on this heart of mine. You can't come from something like that and not be. Everyday I wait for a letter, everyday I pray for a beautiful mother trying to make a living, everyday I pray for the phone call that his sister will be sponsored by me... everyday these children are spoken from this tongue. I can't stop talking about them because on a mountain in Peru they sit, waiting to walk to the church for a meal, waiting for the job to supply, yet knowing that there is a family in Florida loving them from afar. They know that more importantly there is a God that loves them. They know that. It was something I made sure to ask. I knew before I left in that cab.

I have never cared to ask a person point blank before... that aspect of me has changed. My desire for people to know Christ has really changed. There is no life without this knowledge. I want to spend eternity with this family, with you! Compassion International is the real deal when it comes to integrity, the child, their families, and most importantly making sure these children, their families hear the gospel message.

Missions in Action is an interactive web series that was created with the purpose to make a difference around the world. The team is:
  • traveling around the world to identify problems that people are facing.
  • highlighting the actions that individuals and/or companies are taking to help those in need.
  • providing a way for viewers to help out.
Here Missions in Action takes a closer look in the Philippines at what Compassion does through your sponsorship.

Your sponsorship really does make a difference, I cannot stress that enough! Through Compassion you can give a family opportunities they wouldn't have had before. There are people around them willing to help them! They have volunteers that teach, cook, and maintain the church just for your Compassion child. They get it! They know that this is more important than a paying job. They know that the reward in serving their community is more important than ignoring the problems. They want to make a difference for their people. Give them that opportunity! They love God, they love His people, and they are working diligently to make Him known!

I can only say so much because you will not experience the blessing until you put yourself out there. Cut out the cable, cut out the eating out, cut out that coffee at Starbucks because when you do there is a family like the one in the video that will be changed because of what God has allowed you to do! When you submit to His call, the reward is incredible.


Friday, October 21, 2011

12 Years ago...

In two days my husband and I will be celebrating 12 years of being together.

It was the day that he asked me to be his girlfriend after a few months of writing letters and being friends. This is back when being friends was not hugging, kissing, holding hands, but friends that told each other everything, laughed, and cried together. We would write each other letters even within this friendship, and just recently I found them. Each letter I opened earnestly wondering when he wrote them, what it said, and each letter still giving me chills as I read them.

There is irony in many of them as we have been through some messy things with each other since the letter writing, yet I see the beauty in the mess that once was because it created quite the dynamic for us. Even though I didn't see it this way, there was beauty in that pain, and it rose and developed into the person that Christ has made me today. Reson and I have discussed how we are not the same people we married nine years ago, and that is a good thing! However, I can still see a resemblance of the character.

This is the beauty in the covenant of marriage to grow with one person who sees you for who you are: the ugly, the sad, the beautiful, the happy.

It is sharing the sanctification of God's work in your life that you can share with the closest person to you.  A marriage that can blossom through the hurt because each thing begins to define you.This past week I found our wedding invitations, an unfinished letter to my future husband (that he read for the first time last night), and other moments that are far in the past.

Over the past several months Reson has been working late hours at his job, and each day was getting harder and harder for him to connect with our boys and at moments with me. The light at the end of the tunnel was not so bright or visible until this week. After much prayer, fasting, and tears God has again proven His faithfulness to our family. Each night this week Reson coming home at 5:00pm, sharing dinner with us, and playing with our boys another reminder that his absence was draining. Dinner has never been so emotional in our house... at least for me anyways. The moment of praying together (the four of us), laughing at Logan's silly manners, and that moment when we all finish and Luk asks if he wants to play.

In just a nine days my husband will be ordained as a minister, and I am again reminded of God's faithfulness to us during this dark season. My husband has been diligently seeking God's will for his life, and it brings me such a peace knowing he seeks Christ for all his decisions. In 12 years I have seen a high school teenager turn into an amazing man of God. I am incredibly grateful that he is not the man I married; I have loved seeing the changes that God has created in him; I am still madly in love with my best friend.

Marriage is such a remarkable institution, and there are many people that don't value that. God, thank you for reminding daily that beauty will rise from the ashes! The gift that you have given me in Reson is one that I will never understand. Your orchestration of giving me my best friend to be my husband is something that I forever cherish...

Through the children, through loss of one, through the heart ache, and through the joy... You have willingly let me share that with a person that knows me better than anyone else. Thank you for the gift of marriage, companionship, love... when you said that it was not good for man to be alone and created woman... thank you for having YOUR story include us.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Trusting in Him and him

In just five days my husband and I will be celebrating 12 years of togetherness. It was then that my very good friend asked me to be his girlfriend. This past weekend I spent time cleaning my parents garage, and I came across a familiar box. Inside was a treasure, a goldmine, it held the start of my relationship with my husband. There were letters dated back to when we were just friends, to the night after he asked me to be his, our first kiss, and mention from our first fight. There was also a familiar book sitting next to the box it was our marriage counseling book with each of our thoughts and answers.

I look back at the time, and am reminded how much our love has grown, how with each letter I read I was still making me blush from his words, and that my love for him is an intense choice. Through times of dishonesty, miscarriage, and moments of the unknown my trust in Him, my Father has given me the opportunity to be a woman for Him. Through trusting in Him I can trust in the other him in my life, my husband.

The phone calls and talks asking about what to do about work, school, church, children the list can go on, but as I reflect on our 12 years I have given up much of myself to serve an almighty God who has flourished my marriage. Everyday I take steps to give it all up. Is that not what He has done for us?

In a world were being a woman means to be self sufficient, independent, and career based, it is hard to give all control of occupation to my husband. However, everyday I am reminded on the blessings it gives to my family.

It helps us keep into perspective the role that God placed for both of us.

My sons are getting to witness my failures, my repentance, and my strengths.

I am getting so see the way my boys tick.

I find the importance on embracing God's will for my life.

I've learned that unless I have a strong reservation in something I have complete trust in my husband's decisions about everything. It used to be that I would figure out where I stood on the matter, but now I acknowledge when I have a "I don't know" moment I give it up to both hims.

This has proven to be the hardest. When looking through our 9 year old marriage counseling books I found that I struggle with many of the same things I mentioned in that book, but I am in a different stage of struggle with it. Reson and I both acknowledge back then that He was the one that yielded and I was the winner in conversations...

We both laughed as we have clearly seen a change in that area. God's love for us has changed us from the people that we were when we dated and married. We are grateful for these changes because we were disgustingly messy, still are, but our quirks are being chipped away by our Father. Each season bringing a new thing to chip, each moment resting in His goodness, and each tick learning that choosing to see is the reason for our joy.

Lord, thank you for your love for us as your children. Thank you for your grace and mercy because of this you reveal our inefficiencies and bring sanctification. In this you show us that we are not forgotten and loved!

Monday, September 26, 2011

More of the unexpected

Sunday, our church hosted a Compassion Sunday, and I was out of my comfort zone sharing the work that Compassion International does and meeting Smith. 7 out of the 11 children were sponsored that morning, and it was a precious moment! But what has really been unexpected is how much I miss Smith. Cooking time is just not the same as I prepare the meals, I think to myself... there's plenty here for four more. As I look at my warm house, I think of their cool winter, and I have comfy warm beds in my house. I can't stop thinking about him and his family.

There is a significant void in my heart, that I just can't shake away. After Compassion Sunday, I told my husband, "I really miss him today!" How can I miss someone that I only spent seven hours with?

How can I miss Gabriela who I only met for an hour or two?

How can I miss hundreds of Compassion children all over Peru.
My heart is aching over this. I am sad over it. I am sitting here crying (the ugly cry) over it.

Then another unexpected hit me. My husband and I tuned into the Live Link for Passion, and the very last song hit me so hard. It is one I have listened to, meditated over before my trip, but tonight was the first time I heard it after the trip. I'm sobbing over it. It is Christy Nockel's "Waiting Here for You."

"If faith can move the mountains, let the mountains move. 
We come with expectation waiting here for you."

That's as far as I got, and the puddles of tears started flowing. Uncontrollable, there was no warning, I knew the song was coming, just in a matter of words I was undone. As I moved up on that mountain to Smith's house I was expecting the most amazing thing from God, and He delivered it to me. How more could that apply to me. Literally!

I knew that there were some songs already that gathered a new meaning to me because I listened to them on the plane ride home. It was specifically Shaun Groves' "Third World Symphony" album. I can't explain it because it is indescribable to know a song, and it tear you apart within moments. I usually choke up, and I know it's coming. This is different as the tears just flow with no hesitation at all. Oh Smith, Gabriela, Edita... you are missed more than you will ever comprehend because I myself can't even put it into words. 

Lord, I don't know my next step. You are the author of all things that must happen to fulfill YOUR story. You tell me "when," "where," and "how." I don't already know the "why." Fill this void in my heart because right now at this very moment the pain I have is a deafening scream in inner most being. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Peru: The unexpected

Friday was a day for painting the child development center aka the church, but the difference was that one group was going to a center that we hadn't been to. I wanted to go to that one... it is in close proximity to where Smith's center was. I wanted to be able to go so that I could just see the type of area it was in.
I knew that was going to be the closest I would get on this trip, so I asked if I could join the other group, and the leaders graciously said, "yes!"

As the bus pulls through the tiny streets of town, I know we are there. He walks these streets, and his project is very near.

It felt good just to be in the general area, taking pictures of the close buildings, and thinking to myself this is quite gloomy and crowded then other areas...

The church is inviting as always with children welcoming us to their prized church, and again I am humbled by their spirits. They are a people of Christ that love His people, and I wanted to embrace that with my ever being.

We began painting the classrooms with the Christian tunes playing in the backround, and I remember thinking I just want this to bring smiles to the children's faces. If there is anyone that deserves a new painted room it was these kids and volunteers that spend hours doing God's work.

It was a fun time with the girls, singing, and looking so beautiful in our hair nets. I won't lie the church staff really enjoyed laughing at us when they saw us in the nets... yeah, they poked fun at the white folk. It was cute. There's a stigma in American not to poke fun for fear of hurting feelings, but it was great to be with people you just met that felt comfortable joking with us. It brought comfort to the room as the day went on.

Then something unexpected happened. Our group had just finished painting our room and washing the brushes when I started heading down to the dining hall. I'm not sure what my intent was... I can't really tell you why I went down there because I didn't know that lunch was happening in mere minutes, but Liz called me over telling me that Soledad had something to talk to me about.

**Did she find out if I could sponsor Smith's sister? Did we figure out why her mother hadn't registered her?** This was my thought process as I was walking towards her because I had given her the information this morning to find out what I could do to get her. I heading to the kitchen were she was helping fry the chicken. "So, after lunch the facilitator is going to take to you to see Smith, his project, and his house. Caroli will go with you, if that is okay?"

WHAT?! Did she just tell me I would see Smith again? Let's just say that Sole got a huge hug and thanks from me... with the response, "Yea, that's okay! Wow!" As I walked out of the kitchen in disbelief Liz stopped me and explained how hard it was to keep that secret from me, but my smile was worth it.

I was going to see Smith again... I was going to get to see his project... I would get to see his house!!! Holy smokes... was this really happening. Rachel and I sat together at lunch, but I couldn't eat. There was just too much excitement running through my veins. God's blessing was pouring down on me at a rate that was too much for my mind to process. The church showed a power point presentation, and I only remember Rachel saying, "This will be the longest power point ever." She was right. I remember sighing a lot, and her just nodging me and placing her hand on my legs that were shaking uncontrollably. Robyn on the other side rubbing my back.

Rachel volunteered to come along to take pictures of the exchange, and I am forever indebted to her for that. It is amazing how a friendship is formed when God is pouring Himself into your being and the blessing is so big you can't contain it.

Oh... the blessings that happened in those couple of hours...

The drive was short with a taxi ride. The 18 blocks only seemed like 10, but we thought how would anyone know where they are going in this area. There were no street signs, no direct things that would have stuck in my mind... 

As we got down from the car, the project was quiet, and the project facilitators greeted one another and guided us into their church. The flight of stairs were short, and we walked up the hall... and there he was in his class. His seat was in perfect position to be seen from the door!

He was in the middle of eating lunch, and his classmates were so welcoming and precious to meet. He introduced me to his friends that sat next to him.

His tutor showed me his school work, and the things that they had been working on over the course of the year. The pages draped with the word, "Bien!" "Good!"

I was proud of how well he was doing in school. I asked the tutor, "Is he usually this quiet, or is it because I am here with him?" With excitement in her voice she responsed, "Yes, he is very quiet. He is the angel of the classroom, and I put him with the boys that talk a lot because I know that he will quiet them done to pay attention."

Isn't that what a mom wants to here from a teacher!? It warmed my heart, and it was this picture that shares my reaction to that news.
Then I was asked if I would like to visit his home, and before I could even answer Smith was vigorously nodding his head yes. How could I even imagine saying "no" to that!

His tutor came with us as we looked at all the other classrooms in the church, and were told about the new room the pastor had built for a sewing class for their life skills. It was through the tour that we learned that the project had only been open for five years, and that I was the first sponsor to visit their project. Rip of the heart, as the blessings kept coming, He was closer.
It was then that we made it back downstairs, and I was greeted by the kitchen staff. What happened in that brief meeting was... beyond me as I was drowned in compliments on my beauty, my smile, and then she spoke... "She is a sponsor? To who? Smith???" I nod unsure of what is to come next... "If anyone deserves a you it is him! He is such a wonderful boy; he is my neighbor!" Tears welling up as I hear this.

Smith's neighbor to the far left. Tutor hugging me.
Why? Why did God bring me this blessing? I am so unworthy of this treatment. I am just me. A person washed by the blood of Christ, seeking repentance for my sin. Why was he giving me this blessing? I just couldn't understand it, and reflecting back on it... I still don't get it.

The facilitators begin showing me the office, and the life skills of beading that they are doing in the project. I knew because just the day before he shared with me a bracelet that his project had made, but they still kept giving me things to have. I graciously received them, and the rip in my heart grew larger. I was not sure I could take anymore.

Then it happened, God made me confront a fear of mine in pursuit of His blessings... it was time to get in a taxi and climb up that mountain. If you are familiar with me... you may know that I am NOT a fan of one lane bridges. They are usually crossed with my eyes closed, and me gripping the "Holy Crap Bar."

Here I was... tightly squeezed in the middle of a small taxi.

Smith's home was at the top, and as we were going up "God's work" kept coming out of Rachel's mouth. I thought to myself if I was ever ready to die it was at this moment. I was willing to give up life to make it up this mountain with Smith. I was going to see his house! How I even thought that is really something that surprised even me, but it is truth. I was comfortable making this journey because I knew at the top of this mountain God was going to do something amazing, and I was NOT going to miss out on it!

His mother greeted us at the top, apologizing to me about her humble home, and I couldn't stop her fast enough! God calls us to be humble, and she was doing the best with what she had. I was honored to be present at this very moment.  She was first setting out chairs outside the house, when the facilitator asked if we could enter... She hesitated, but allowed us into their home. There was no door, just a curtain separating us from the chill of the winter. It was then that I was surprised by a man sitting next to Gabriela. Who was this? They didn't mention him yesterday when I found out his father left his mother for another woman... Who has this man?

It was her nephew sent to stay and help her by her brother (his father). Darwin came to live with them just a short month ago. Look at that picture... do you see his protection over Gabriela? Rip in my heart further. God was providing someone to help them more than me! Rip, as I saw his love for his cousins.

Peace in my heart from the night before wondering how she was going to make it alone with the two kids.

I asked about Gabriela. Was she going to be registered into the Compassion Program? There again hesitation in her answer... the facilitators telling her that the registration was coming up in October. I look at Caroli (translator), and tell her, "Tell her if she does it she will be have a sponsor because I will sponsor her." Caroli's eyebrows raised (I wonder if she was trying to hold back what was about to be shared by the room), and tells the group. It was in that moment the house was loud with applause and "ooohhhhs."

It was at that moment that Edita (Smith's mom) sprang at me with the greatest hug I could have asked for. I knew where Smith had learned it from. It was then that she opened her heart to me. She was no longer holding back from me like she was the day before and moments before. Edita learned to trust me in one short sentence. Ripped to one final strip still holding my heart together.

When God presents you with a blessing you hold on to it with everything you can, and you embrace it through the pain... because pain is bound to pop up... I know it!

Gabriela, the love I have for you is beyond explanation. You will never understand it. Just like your brother won't, but I tell you your family is mine. You are loved by an almighty God, and a 27 year old girl from Florida. 

Her hug is more genuine than before.  I wonder what her thoughts are on this moment in her life. I know that today was an unexpected visit, but what will are reunion be like in July. Will she have a greater hope of Christ? Will she still feel encouraged by our bound that God has given us? My husband shared that the trip was meant just for me to go. Edita needed just me. A woman broken and full of mistrust needed a sisterhood that I had no idea about. I thought God put me in Smith's life for him, but I'm beginning to see that it was his mom that needed me. Smith and Gabriela have a wonderful beautiful mother, who just needs a sister to give her the hope of Christ.

In appreciation and love for me Edita shares with me her trade... Hawaiian necklaces. I don't want to take them as I know her income will be effected, but how could I deny her the blessings that God has given to be for giving to them. I couldn't. So, I take them...

It's good-bye for now, until July. There are no tears this time because with this visit came trust that I will be back to love on my extended family. They are mine. God gave me the gift to be apart of their life, and I can't keep living life not seeing them.

The ride down is easier than the ride up, and we are back down the hill to the other project. 

It's later that the final rip happened in my heart. God came then. I find out from the project we painted at that Edita only makes 5 soles ($2.50) for 1,000 necklaces. She cuts the flowers out, strings each piece together, and she gave me 20... I sit back and cry. This is receiving from a person with true gratitude. I am put in my place, I am humbled, and I see God right there with me. I am broken, but not beyond repair. He is there piecing me back together... because now I have a story about His glory. I have to share it forever and ever. My God... His blessings are good, painful, and overpowering.  
"Presuming "God's blessings" are always enjoyable and happy-makers
is like presuming surgery will be pain free and fun."
- Scotty Smith
"Joy weakens me like a wound. Oh, You're coming closer and it's hard to take in that 
I have wasted so much fear and devotion. But there's no time left for my regrets 
when You're calling." - Further Up/Further In- My Epic
I am forever changed. I see God through the pain, the joy, the fear, and most of all I see God because I really understand what it means to say, "all is grace..."

**Thank you to Sole from the Peru Compassion Office for letting God use you to bless me. I still don't understand why God blessed me this way, but I will embrace it and glorify His name!**