Breaking the Silence … India Reflections

Just before Thanksgiving I had the privilege of being one of eleven women traveling to India with the organization Mission India. What would compel a bunch of women to fly to the other side of the world right before the most wonderful time of the year?

As I ponder and process and attempt to put into words my feelings and experience in India, I am surprised by the word that comes to me; silence.

Traveling to India was about the silencing of women, children and the impoverished by illiteracy. It was about the silencing of those following the Living God by intimidation and death. It was about the silencing of beauty and dignity by emptiness and oppression.

I went to India to help break the silence. I went to listen and observe the transformative effects of education and literacy on a person’s life; education bringing hope and empowerment not only to an individual but to a family and community. I went to feel the heart cry of fellow human beings to be seen, heard and touched; to embrace, cup precious faces and lay hands to impart Love. I went to stand with brothers and sisters in the flames of fire; to breathe and blow fresh Wind that refreshes, encourages and strengthens the heart to stay the course. I went to break the silence.

As I listen and observe, feel and stand an interesting thing happened. As I engage with others I hear a voice telling me to be quiet. I hear a voice attempting to silence and isolate me, spouting all sorts of lies and half truths in an attempt to keep me from connecting with those I came to see. But as I press in to hear the heart of the one in front of me, I see the face of one pressing in to hear my heart as well. And in this, the foe that seeks to silence me can’t help but be silenced. Because Love is greater and when we seek to understand another’s heart He is magnified and the truth illuminated and given voice.

And for me this truth is affirmed, that although culturally we may be a world apart, in matters of the heart we are all very much the same; the desire for families to be whole, for babies to be conceived, for physical and spiritual healing and protection, for the freedom to dream and the ability to work to see those dreams become a reality. The truth breaks the silence and reminds that we are all part of humanity and this connects our hearts not only to one another but to the Creator of us all.

And one more truth speaks; that we don’t have to travel far to find those living silenced. It can be as close as our city, the house next-door or the face of the one looking back at us in the mirror.

May we be empowered in the name of the One who always hears our heart and who broke the chains of division, the name above all names, the mighty name of Jesus, to live in such a way that no matter where we go or who stands before us, we hear the heart and break the silence.

Unhindered…live the masterpiece!

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Love this picture. It speaks of an incredible legacy of hope and empowerment this adult literacy student is passing down to her daughter.

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Such a contrast to me. In the midst of the dirt and foul smell of roaming animals are vibrant colors and smell of spices and oils.

 

 

 

 

 

 

My African Adventure with Compassion International

A month ago I embarked on a two week adventure to the countries of Tanzania and Kenya with my family. The purpose of this vision trip was to journey to Compassion International program sites, meet our sponsor children and their … Continue reading

Expect Delays

I have a love hate relationship with technology.  I love technology when it QUICKLY does what I want.  I hate technology when it doesn’t work or takes longer to accomplish a task than I deem necessary.  Why doesn’t my phone navigate the variety of apps with the ease of the one on the commercial? Where did the rough draft of my blog go?  All I did was touch the screen? And why do I constantly need to reboot my wireless internet?  Frustrating!!

I am not good with glitches or delays.  (Those closest to me might say that’s an understatement!)  But what if the glitches and delays aren’t really my problem.  What if sometimes the real problem is that I am not very good with perseverance?  

Perseverance steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.

There will always be obstacles that slow down and impede progress this side of Heaven.  I choose how I respond.  I can play the victim, throw a hissy fit and give up or I can press in, re-adjust and continue on my journey.  Oh that I would press on!

So what are you facing today?  Is there an obstacle in your way that is slowing down your progress?  Are you close to throwing in the towel?  Is it difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel?

Now is not the time to give up but to press in and press on!  Remaining steadfast may be uncomfortable.  It may be the hardest thing you have ever done.  It may take every ounce of your energy.  Giving up control over timing is never easy but you can do this.  You can persevere because the One who formed and gave you all those crazy dreams is right there by your side and He is for, not against, you!

Unhindered…live the masterpiece!

 

Living Loved

Recently a friend of mine felt impressed by God to, “Live as a loved woman!” It’s easy to gloss over the depth and magnitude of what these words mean. Yes, I am loved. Jesus loves me this I know. God loves everyone. Kumbaya.

However, I must confess that many times I do not approach life from this place of ‘loved’. Sadly, I often live from the place of trying to ‘earn love’. Subtle as it may be, they are very different places.

Earning love is on-going, insecure and constantly shifting because it’s dependent on my behavior and circumstances which can be extremely inconsistent. On the other hand, loved is a gift which is secure, final, complete; a God centered place of grace that motivates and gives meaning to my life as I receive it.

So, how would our world change if we stopped trying to earn love and instead received and embraced the gift of true Love? What would life look like if you and I lived in this place of security and grace? What if we lived as loved people?

The Apostle John writes in 1 John 4:19, ” We love because He first loved us!” God loves you. He loves me. We are loved. And He calls out, “Live as loved people!”

Oh that it would be the most natural thing to do!

Unhindered…live the masterpiece!

 

Square Peg Round Hole

Ever try to put a square peg in a round hole? Doesn’t work. A round hole is for a round peg. Seems pretty logical and basic, doesn’t it? It’s something a toddler can learn playing with any shape sorter toy.

Then, why as adults do we often live frustrated, aimless or stuck? Could it be that we have been trying to put a square peg in a round hole?

The goal of a shape sorter toy is to place all the varying shaped pieces into a box through a corresponding shaped opening. Similarly, there is a common goal and purpose for our lives; to glorify Love. Yet, we are each shaped uniquely and, therefore, how we each go about fulfilling our purpose will be unique. I can only live as me and you can only live as you. To live exactly as another is not possible. When we neglect to see this uniqueness and attempt to create carbon copies of each other we will live frustrated. It is like trying to place a square peg in a round hole.

Certainly there are basic principles that should guide and direct all of our paths. (The fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Gal.5:22)  Yes, we can learn important things from one another. (As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. Prov.27:17) However, even Jesus’ ministry, whose purpose is always constant and consistent, chose to manifest Divine Life in a variety of  ways; from placing spit-filled mud on eyes to speaking just a word, from over throwing money changing tables to touching the untouchables. Consistent in purpose but varied in outward manifestation.

Today may we remember that we are not a copy but an original. May we be bold and brave to live as ourselves and not someone else. And may we be free to be consistent in the purpose of Love but varied in its outward manifestation.

Unhindered…live the masterpiece!

 

 

 

Hanging it on the Wall

ArtPrize!  Downtown Grand Rapids is once again transformed into a city wide art gallery. The competition hosts 1500 artists in over 160 venues and brings 400,000+ visitors to the downtown area. It’s an incredible event that celebrates imagination, creativity and vulnerability. Art … Continue reading

Intimidation

Fifth grade.  Middle school.  A building full of 5th-8th graders, 10-year-old children to 14-year-old puberty stricken adolescents. Whose bright idea was this?

It wasn’t so bad at first.  I wasn’t the only ‘child’ in the school.   There were other short, skinny, knock kneed, flat chested girls.  The problem was I didn’t know them yet.  My friends were the woman childs and apparently I wasn’t fitting into the image they wanted to present to the rest of the school.

Ignore the child.  That was their first line of attack.  I was a bit naive I guess because that didn’t work.  Stand at the door and when the child enters stare at her and tell her you’re gonna beat her up.  Now that got my attention!  I stayed away.  However, just to make sure I received the message and didn’t wander my skinny behind back onto their path, they met me at the entrance to school many mornings and reminded me.

Intimidation – to force into or deter from action by inducing fear.

Intimidation can take on many forms.  It can be extremely harsh like bullying or sly and subtle like being tongue tied by someone’s status or gifts.  The goal is always the same;  to make us timid and discourage us from action. It is a major weapon in the war against Love and an obstacle to living the fullness of our masterpiece.

Unfortunately our world is full of intimidating forces.  Everyday we see and hear the most devastating consequences of those who do not comply.  Often that alone has the power to silence and suppress our gifts and voice.  It is about survival.  Who in their right mind would choose to suffer such great lose?  Keep quiet, comply and stay under the radar.  But is that how we are created to live?

In fifth grade the intimidation finally stopped.  In reflecting back to the reason, it is clear that I chose to believe I had value and something to offer. That belief was affirmed by a beautiful vocal music teacher. She saw the natural gifts and talent fashioned and birthed in my DNA and she validated and called those gifts forth.

In what ways are you being intimidated today?  Are  you are feeling timid and fearful?  Are you are being intimidated into not expressing the gifts and calling you have been bestowed?

You may never have a music teacher by your side, but you do have Someone more powerful.  He is the Lion of Judah and when you and I choose to live this masterpiece He has created HE roars and all that seeks to suppress and silence, even death itself, will never prevail.

To Him be the glory forever and ever!

Unhindered…live the masterpiece!

“They were stoned,: they were sawed in two; they were put to death by the sword….The world was not worthy of them.”  Hebrews 11:37-38

Mission 101

You are a one of a kind masterpiece. There has never been and will never be anyone exactly like you. ‘Thank God!’  some may be thinking!  But it’s humbling to think that each of us is truly unique.  There is no one else with the intricate mixture of personality, talents and passions as you.  Although fundamentally we may share a common purpose, you have a specific assignment; a mission that is unique to you and one which only you can fulfill.  Others may have similar missions but it will never be lived out in the same manner or with the exact results as yours.  Your mission is your mission and your life is important and vital.

So what is a mission?  In the book The Path…Creating Your Mission Statement for Work and Life, author Lauirie Beth Jones says,

“A mission is a clearly defined area of responsibility that is assigned by a High Headquarters, which is part of a larger plan and is felt as a ‘calling’.”

Simply stated, a mission statement is a written down reason for being.  It is the purpose and motivation behind your actions.  It is a statement about the lens through which you see life; the core value that motivates and drives you.  Ideally a mission statement should be a single sentence, easy to memorize and recite, and understandable to a twelve year old.

A personal mission statement is something that is true about you at all times.  It is not limited to a job, role or geography because those things will change in the course of a lifetime. The best place to start crafting a personal mission statement is to identify your core value by asking yourself a few questions.

What quality would I most like to represent to the world?  What am I passionate about?  What do I get excited and enthusiastic about and why?

The truth is we each are living out a mission whether we can articulate it or not.  The question is whose?   Oh may our answer be Love’s!

Unhindered…live the masterpiece!

My mission is to stir-up, inspire and speak Divine encouragement!  What’s yours?                                                                       

Drifting Away

When you hear the word drift what images or thoughts come to mind?  Do you imagine lying on an inner tube, relaxing as the current takes you downstream?  Drifting is wonderful if it is a hot day and you are on a small body of water where the shore is in reach.  But on a vast body of water?  It may start out relaxing and enjoyable but when you open your eyes and the shoreline is difficult to see, now that’s another story.

Drift……to be carried slowly by a current of air or water; a continuous slow movement from one place to another.

Mission Drift: The Unspoken Crisis Facing Leaders, Charities, and Churches by Peter Greer and Chris Horst is an intriguing book about the slow changes occurring in an organization that lead it away from its stated purpose and identity.  They call this mission drift.  However, it isn’t just organizations that can suffer mission drift if they aren’t careful.  You and I can as well.

In what areas are you drifting right now?  Sometimes it is hard to identify because drifting is subtle and slow.  Over time, if left unchecked,  it has the power to lead us off course and into some dangerous territory. There are a number of ways  we are prone to drift from our purpose or mission.  Probably the best way to identify those areas is by asking and honestly answering:

Does what I think, say, and do line up with who Love says I am?   

This question is not meant to bring condemnation.  It is intended to keep us alert and  focused on the things that we each are designed and created to do. For when we live in our purpose lives are healed, reconciled and edified. When we live in our purpose life is peaceful in the chaos, hopeful in the depravity, and joyful in the pain.  When we live in our purpose our Creator God is the focus and He is glorified mightily.  And this is really what life is ultimately all about.

Unhindered…live the masterpiece!