Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Lent: A Time to Listen by Glenn Myers

0 What are your thoughts?

“After the fire, [there was] a still small voice. And it was so when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and behold, there came a voice unto him, and said . . . .” -1 Kings 19:12-13 (KJV)

Our God is a speaking God, and he would speak to us if we would but listen. “God is forever seeking to speak Himself out to His creation,” asserts A. W. Tozer in his Pursuit of God. “The whole Bible supports this idea. God is speaking. Not God spoke, but God is speaking.”

Listen – Silent

In order for us to hear his voice, however, we must still our racing thoughts, slow down our frenetic activity and set aside intentional time to listen to him. There in the quietness he will restore us and speak to us. The words “listen” and “silent” have the same six letters in them. In order to listen, we must silence all of the other noises in our minds. Likewise, if we want to hear the Lord’s voice, we must be still.

Johannes Tauler, the preacher who greatly influenced Martin Luther, calls us to inner stillness: “In this midnight silence, in which all things remain in deepest stillness and where perfect peace reigns, there we will hear God’s word in truth. For if God is to speak, we must be silent; if God is to enter in, all other things must make room for him.” [1]

As long as we are preoccupied, we will not hear the Lord’s words of love, comfort and direction for our lives. However, if we stop to listen, he will surely speak.

During Lent, let us attend to God’s voice with all our focus. Let us dedicate these days to establishing a habit of silence and listening to our Lord.

Gracious God, thank you that you are not silent! You spoke the Word in all eternity, you pour out your loving thoughts to us continually, and you desire to speak to us today. Here I am: I am listening to what you would say to me today. Amen.

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1. Johannes Tauler, Johannes Tauler Predigten: Vollständige Ausgabe. Edited by Georg Hofmann. Freiburg: Herder, 1961.

© 2011 Glenn E. Myers

_________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Glenn E. Myers is author of Seeking Spiritual Intimacy: Journeying Deeper with Medieval Women of Faith (InterVarsity Press, 2011), welcoming believers to pursue a deeper walk with Christ. He is also a contributor to Zondervan’s Dictionary of Christian Spirituality (2011). Glenn’s passion is helping contemporary Christians grow spiritually by introducing them to the rich heritage of the past two thousand years of the church. Offering fresh spiritual water to thirsty saints today, he authors a blog: deepwellswithglennmyers.blogspot.com.

In 1995-1996, he and his wife Sharon ministered with CBN in Kiev. Receiving an M.Div. from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and a Ph.D. in church history from Boston University, Dr. Myers has served as pastor, missionary and professor. Currently he is a professor of Church History at Crown College with a specialization in the history of Christian Spirituality. Glenn also serves on the board at Restoration Ministries, Inc., offering retreats and provides spiritual direction.

© Glenn E. Myers. Used with permission.

Photo Credit: Creation Speaks

Friday, February 24, 2012

Beautiful, Beautiful: A guest post

4 What are your thoughts?


As I stepped off the plane, all I could do was cry.  I’m sure it was because I knew I was finally going to see my kids again but it also could have been because everyone around me was speaking English!  We were finally back on US soil with our new daughter after what was undoubtedly the hardest 6 ½ weeks of my life.  I’m a bit surprised that I had any tears left at that point.  We came home from Ukraine physically and emotionally depleted in ways I had never known possible.  The child we brought home with us was deeply emotionally scarred….a reality that slapped me in the face when I thought the hardest thing we would have to deal with was her physical disability. Don’t get me wrong.  I’d read all of the books and looked at all of the web sites.  I’d heard all of the stories, but hearing it and living it are two very different things.  To say that she was challenging would be a gross understatement.  With little reserves left after the ordeal of bringing her home, I wondered how in the world I was going to parent this child. 

Broken 

A couple of days after arriving home, I found myself sobbing in my closet, begging God not to make me do this…it was a little too late at that point though, and I knew it, which made it even harder to deal with.  I had made a fairy tale out of our adoption and it came crashing down.  I learned very fast how incredibly weak I was, how ill equipped I was to parent her, and how little I knew about what love really was.  Love comes easy when someone is easy to love.  This kind of love was different, it was a choice, an action despite your feelings, and it was hard.

During the early weeks and months, we were learning who our daughter was and helping her to heal from her past and the fears that the present brought.  In that time, The Lord used the song “Beautiful, Beautiful’ by Francesca Battistelli to minister to me. 

Finding Beauty

Every time I listened to this song, I heard truth among a million lies that went through my head each day.  God saw something in me that I couldn’t see in myself.  He chose me as Oksana’s parent and would help me be who I needed to be for her.  He was all I needed.  I knew that through the pain of my circumstances He would create something beautiful and I would experience joy through His work in my life.

A year and a half later it is sometimes still really hard, but beauty abounds!  Beauty is holding her in my arms when she looks up at me and says “I love you so much,” and the feeling is mutual.  Beauty is hearing her belly laugh.  Beauty is seeing her delight in kissing her brothers good night.  Beauty is watching her love life and live it to the fullest rather than fear life.  Beauty is in signs of healing, physically and emotionally.  Beauty is what the Lord has done in all of us.  We are different, we are changed, we are joyful. It is truly beautiful!
______________________________________________________________________

 
Erin Loraine is married to Larry, her high school sweetheart, and they have been blessed with 3 kiddos.  Clayton is 12, Evan is 9, and Oksana, who was adopted from Ukraine in 2010 is 6.  Oksana has Cerebral Palsy and microcephaly keeping her family on their toes!  They are in the process of bringing home a Bulgarian Beauty with Down Syndrome.  Erin blogs about her joys and struggles at 









Beautiful, Beautiful (Lyrics)

Don’t know how it is You looked at me
And saw the person that I could be
Awakening my heart
Breaking through the dark
Suddenly Your grace


(Chorus)
Like sunlight burning at midnight
Making my life something so
Beautiful, beautiful
Mercy reaching to save me
All that I need
You are so
Beautiful, beautiful


Now there’s a joy inside I can’t contain
But even perfect days can end in rain
And though it’s pouring down
I see You through the clouds
Shining on my face


(Chorus)

I have come undone
But I have just begun
Changing by Your grace


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Lent: A Time to Draw Close to God by Glenn Myers

2 What are your thoughts?

“Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus . . . let us draw near to God with a sincere heart.” –Hebrews10:19-22 (TNIV)

God invites us into his presence. As Christians we are often like the believers in the book of Hebrews—we have the way open to the Father, but we fail to come to him.

Lent is a season set aside to draw nearer to God. It is an appointed time to pursue afresh the deeper life. For nearly 2000 years, Christians have dedicated the days leading up to Easter to draw close to the Lord. This is a time to refresh our relationship with him and to refocus our hearts, minds and lives upon God the Father.

In order to refocus our lives, we must intentionally set aside everything else and draw apart with God. In his book, Making All Things New, Henri Nouwen observes, “Without solitude it is virtually impossible to live a spiritual life. Solitude begins with a time and place for God, and him alone. . . . If we really believe not only that God exists but also that he is actively present in our lives—healing, teaching, and guiding—we need to set aside a time and space to give him our undivided attention.”

Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. What is something special you can do over the coming weeks to give the Lord your undivided attention? Where is the best place for you to have intimate time with him—a place where you know you will not be uninterrupted? How can you focus all your attention on him?

This Lenten season let us come—individually and corporately—to God’s loving, healing, transforming presence.

Heavenly Father, thank you that you welcome me into your presence. I want to draw closer to you over these coming weeks. Please show me what areas of my life need to change and what ways I can set aside special time for seeking you. You have invited me to come - and my response is "yes, I come to you!"
__________________________________________________________________________________

 Glenn E. Myers is author of Seeking Spiritual Intimacy: Journeying Deeper with Medieval Women of Faith (InterVarsity Press, 2011), welcoming believers to pursue a deeper walk with Christ. He is also a contributor to Zondervan’s Dictionary of Christian Spirituality (2011). Glenn’s passion is helping contemporary Christians grow spiritually by introducing them to the rich heritage of the past two thousand years of the church. Offering fresh spiritual water to thirsty saints today, he authors a blog: deepwellswithglennmyers.blogspot.com.

In 1995-1996, he and his wife Sharon ministered with CBN in Kiev. Receiving an M.Div. from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and a Ph.D. in church history from Boston University, Dr. Myers has served as pastor, missionary and professor. Currently he is a professor of Church History at Crown College with a specialization in the history of Christian Spirituality. Glenn also serves on the board at Restoration Ministries, Inc., offering retreats and provides spiritual direction.


© Glenn E. Myers. Used with permission.

Photo Credit: Creation Speaks

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Ready to "Be Still"

6 What are your thoughts?


This year Lent begins on Wednesday, February 22nd. If you have been around These Broken Vases for a while, you know that I have observed Lent the last couple of years (no I am not Catholic, but I have come to find Lent very meaningful) You can read about that here and here.

If you read my last post, you know that I need to make some changes in order to be present with my family. I have allowed social media and my time spent on my computer to take priority, and this really needs to change.

I wrote this last year, and it continues to hold truth today:

The season of Lent is to be a season of self-examination, prayer, repentance, and re-commitment. Our sins cost Him death on the cross. They are not to be taken lightly, they are not to be diminished as simple bad habits. Lent can be a meaningful time that leads us to the celebration of Christ's Resurrection at Easter.
I want this season to be a time where God speaks truth into those deep places of my heart. A time where I hear His voice and allow His words to cover my being and to change me. A time where I allow God to search me and to know my heart. A time where I find those things that are offensive to the God that gave me life. I want to be transformed.
 
So there will be some changes. I will be limiting my time on-line and I have an accountability partner. I am really excited about this. I want to experience Psalm 46:10, it says,  "Be still and know that I am God."
 
What will Lent look like for this blog?

Every Friday during Lent, I will have a guest post from dear friends that are willing to share with you how they have found beauty despite brokenness. I am excited about this and I think you will find these posts to be inspiring and you might be able to identify with some of them.
 
I will be posting here every Tuesday and once during the weekend. Some say a great way to lose your readers is by not posting often, but hopefully when you do stop by you will find yourself reading something that is worth your time.
 
So that is me. What about you, do you observe Lent? What are the things that you hope to work on this year? What are areas in your life you hope to see transformed?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

I sold my life to social media...and I didn't even know it.

44 What are your thoughts?
“Mom, I think you like your computer more than you like your family.” Ellie stood in front of me – and my computer – fists on her hips and waiting for eye contact.

“Oh sweetheart, that is not true! Of course I like you better!” I responded defensively.

“No mom. You spend more time playing with your computer than you spend with us.”

I reached for the top of my laptop and slowly began to lower it in an attempt to close the computer. However, I was in the middle of reading a blog post, or an e-mail, or some status update on facebook, or checking stats on my blog, or something, or anything, or absolutely nothing. Still, it took all the willpower in me to close that screen instead of finishing whatever it was I was doing at a time.

Someday, I will be begging for Ellie’s time and it will be too late if I don’t change this. I have to be present if I want to be a part of my girls’ lives. They are more important. I don’t ever want to regret this. Not ever. 

“You know what Ellie; I think that I should not be on the computer from the time you come home from school until the time you go to bed.” I finally said.

“Really?” Ellie’s sweet and excited voice was accompanied by a big smile.

“I will try my best.” 

It is not easy

I didn’t anticipate for it to be this hard. Like a drug addict going through withdrawal I find myself constantly standing by my computer. “I can check my e-mail really quick; it will only take a couple of minutes.”  I know it only takes a couple of minutes for me to be lost behind the screen. A couple of minutes soon become another afternoon spent with my on-line friends rather than the family I love and actually get to do real life with.

That is the hardest part. I have exchanged real relationships for those that take place through a computer monitor. I chose to do “virtual” life rather than real life. It makes no sense, absolutely no sense at all. Especially when my family is the ones I sacrifice. Ironically, it is my family that I love the most and they are the ones that really matter in my life.

The seriousness of it all

I have an addiction, and it is damaging my real relationships just as much as if I was an alcoholic or a drug addict. I have become an absent mother and wife, all for the sake of social media.

Recently, a friend of mine posted on her facebook page (Yeah, ironic, isn’t it?) a link that tells you the average time you spend on-line each day. She was brave to have her number displayed on her facebook wall. Do I want to know? I was already struggling to keep my afternoons free of my computer; did I really want to know the seriousness of my little addiction? So I clicked on the link and the number broke me. The result of “9.8 hours a day” was not only embarrassing, but also shameful, because I could no longer deny that I sold my life to social media and I didn’t even know it. So I am taking my life back! (<---tweet this)

Those results are what led me to write this post, because I told you I would be real. But also, because now I have more people to keep me accountable. Because I know that this is a real problem easily dismissed because “everyone else is doing it” but the pull of this media-saturated-culture is so strong that it is destroying our relationships.  I cannot sit back behind the screen and do nothing about it. I have to take ownership of my time, of my life, and the gifts that God has given to me. 

I do not know if you struggle with this or not, but if you do, we can stand together. We can take ownership of our lives and get them back. We can become present to the people we love and care for. It will be hard, it will be really hard. The temptation is only a click away. But it will be worth it, so incredibly, absolutely, and completely worth it. Time to stop living behind a screen, and start living life to the full.

I would LOVE to hear from you on this topic. What has social media been like for you? How do you balance it? Do you know how much time you spend behind the screen? What are your thoughts?


Linked to:
Women Living Well
Winsome Wednesday
Works For Me Wednesday
No Ordinary Blog Hop
Life Unmasked

Bless a Blogger Friday


Thought Provoking Thursday
Proverbs 31
Thankful Thursday

Monday, February 13, 2012

And We Lost a Tooth!

7 What are your thoughts?
It finally happened. The last of my "baby" is coming off giving way to the big girl teeth. The tooth was bleeding and bothering Ellie, so she asked me to pull it. 

I tried, I really did. But every time I counted to 3 my hand was not doing what my brain was telling it to do. I just couldn't do it!

Oh...but daddy's are awesome at this loosing-teeth business. Andy grabbed the tooth and pulled before Ellie realized what was happening. She felt the hole and pumped her fists while she jumped.
Then she felt the blood...

We got the tears taken care off, and then the tooth became the talk of the night. Amazing how a little tooth can create unending conversation.

And so...Ellie sang a little song...

  video

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Responding to Your Comments # 6

1 What are your thoughts?
Blog Post: Who Will Win Today? and CP Connection #3

I would come up with something else. There will be days when she just can't do something as well as she did the day before, no matter how hard she tries. Sometimes trying again tomorrow is the best plan of action. You don't want her to feel defeated or that she's "lost" by making it seem like a fight.

Thanks for this perspective! I really appreciate it when adults with CP can give in their 2 cents. I really take that to heart. Thank you for helping me understand that this is part of CP and there will be days where she really cannot do something. I really needed to know this!

When you mentioned that "Nina's left foot pops up and she walks on her toes" It really made me want to share these special boots that were suggested by the Conductor when Hailey attended Conductive Education. The Tommy heel that is inside this boot, coupled with the strap and bickle really help with keeping her heel down on the floor. They are very expensive (upwards of $200.00) but she wears these instead of AFO's.

Thank you so much for this tip. Here is the link to the boots for anyone that would like to take a look.
I will definitely ask about these when we go to Mayo and see what they think.

I also recommend finding a different approach.
As Sarah mentioned, there will be some days when it's difficult to overcome her CP. On those days, she may not "win"; that would make her a "loser" and we certainly don't want that! Especially since this is child who seems to struggle with learned helplessness. (I know this was a big problem in the beginning; not sure if this is still the case?) I think the concept is a good one, but I think you need to rework the wording to avoid winner/loser. You don't want to make her feel bad about herself if she's having a difficult day. In short, I would avoid a "good/bad" dichotomy. Instead, I would try a "good/better" approach. Perhaps you could say "overcoming" (on good days or "living with" (on not-so-good days) or something like that?
It's certainly difficult, as you want to make her feel good and build confidence when she's doing well, but you don't want to make her feel bad on days when she's already struggling with her body.

You know, we had a difficult week with Nina, and the only thing that was different was this, so we dropped it quick. She cut a friend's shirt at school during art class and had a bathroom accident at school. While it "seemed" to work, obviously there was much more going on. Interesting you bring up the "loser" issue because it did come up. Thankfully we stopped that within a week. Now trying to find other ways to motivate her. It is ALL confidence, so we need to find ways to boost her confidence. Any ideas?

If you did not get a chance to connect, the CP connection link is open all month, so you can join any time!

Blog post: My People

This just goes to show that the word "Missionary" doesn't necessarily mean going somewhere on the other side of the world; no, sometimes it means going somewhere very close to home.

That is exactly right! And we are all missionaries to "our people" whoever they are, wherever we are.

Thanks for sharing your experience with God's call. It's a great reminder that God is eager to point us in the right direction.

Yes He is! Sometimes it takes us a while to "see" what that is. I wonder sometimes if it is because we are not ready yet, and He is working in us. I know I would have not been ready or would have understood it at the time of the events in "the Dream" and a couple of days later on the "Parade of the Nations" it would have been so overwhelming! Now...it is exciting and humbling. 

I have enjoyed reading your blog for a really long time, this post however really captured me. I will be blogging about this post tomorrow and linking it to your full post. Thank You!!!

No, thank you! Feel free to share and link back here anytime!

Our pastor's wife...the Mommy of Caity who has Down's Syndrome...will be speaking for the first time at our ladies retreat on "When God Sends A Special Child".

You know, I know of many pastor's families that have kids with special needs (or Down syndrome).The church can make a difference. I think it would be sweet if we could all come together and saw our churches transformed because of these people, "my people" and how much they have to offer.

Thank you all so much for the beautiful and encouraging comments you left on this post. Really, I am so thankful!

Blog Post: So Full of Love: Siblings and Down Syndrome

How we can be so wrong when we presume our life story, yet God has penned it perfectly

Isn't there a saying that says something like, "If you want to make God laugh tell Him your plans."? Yes, you are right, His plans are the perfect ones.

I too worried that my daughters would have a different relationship with my son. I was so wrong.


No comment here, I just wanted to share :)

God is so gracious to us and blesses us so much. I love how your eldest's heart is so much bigger with love because of her precious sister. God's love in real life.

I like how well you summarized this. It is so true. God's love in real life. 

Thank you, again, for all your thoughtful comments on this post.

Blog post: Would You Like to Guest Post?


Would you? I would love to share your stories of how God has borough something beautiful out of the broken places in your life. Would you consider guest posting?

Friday, February 10, 2012

Would You Like to Guest Post?

3 What are your thoughts?
I have shared with you some of the places of brokenness in my life, and how I have found beauty in them. I believe that as we share openly and honestly, we can encourage and help others that walk a similar journey.

Yet, I know that you may have stories of brokenness and beauty to share too.

Would you like to guest post here at These Broken Vases, and share with us how you have found beauty in unexpected places? I would love to share your stories.

You can either leave me a comment here and let me know how I can contact you, or you can e-mail me directly at ellenstumbo at yahoo dot com.

I cannot wait to hear the stories you have to share!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

So Full of Love- Siblings and Down Syndrome

11 What are your thoughts?
“Mom, sometimes, when I look at Nichole she is so cute that I feel like crying because my heart is so full of love.”

There are times I look at my children and I feel like crying because of the intense love I feel for them. It is a love so hard to contain that it spills out in tears.  I get this feeling, I am a mom. However, coming out of the mouth of Ellie, my 6-year-old daughter, it surprised me. It made me realize how uncommon this is, and how perfect these 2 girls are for each other.

When Nichole was born with Down syndrome, one of the hardest dreams I had to let go of was the type of relationship I envisioned my girls having. They are only 25 months apart, and I had great plans for them. They would be best friends forever. Because of Nichole’s Down syndrome, I wrongly assumed their relationship would not be close.

They are not playmates:

They do play together, but mostly, Ellie adapts to Nichole. Often, Ellie gets frustrated with Nichole stealing her toys and running wild throughout the house or dangling Ellie’s dearest Rapunzel by the hair. Nichole has a thing for yelling at Ellie in order to get her attention, which is not necessary, but rather bothersome. It is true that my girls are not the best playmates; however, they are closer than anything I could have imagined.

They are sisters:

 Every morning, they sit together on the couch as they watch a show before getting ready to begin the day. At school, Ellie hugs Nichole before they part to their respective classrooms, and if they see each other throughout the day, they try to get another hug. When I pick up the girls form school and we arrive home, Nichole runs to Ellie for more hugs. If Ellie picks up a book, Nichole nestles herself close to Ellie in order to listen to the stories and look at the pictures with her big sister. If Ellie jumps, Nichole jumps. If Ellie laughs, Nichole laughs. If Ellie dances, Nichole does too. If Ellie cries, Nichole runs to her side for a hug, a pat on the back, and gently strokes Ellie’s hair until her big sister stops crying. 

I am amazed at the ways in which Nichole has molded Ellie’s heart. A heart that is full of compassion, acceptance, and gentleness. I see it in the way Ellie loves and treats others, or the way she loves her little sister. In turn, Ellie molds Nichole as she teaches her by example.

There is so much love:

This relationship they have, even this young, is simply incredible. The love they have for each other is a love that surpasses any expectations I had. It is the love that drives a 6 year old to “get it” in a way that few children her age could even grasp, including some adults.

So I sit back and marvel about this love we live with, this vast love we get to experience. I worried so much about what the extra chromosome would do to my daughters’ relationship, but I had nothing to worry about, because there is so much love.  

Here they are, cuddling in a laundry basket. Ellie allowing Nichole some minutes of pure bliss as she holds Rapunzel, the culprit of so many sisterly disputes and chases around the house.

Linked to:

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Book Review: The Bone House by Stephen Lawhead

0 What are your thoughts?
A sequel to The Skin Map, we move on as Kit Livingston continues his search for the skin map (If you have not read the Skin Map or read the review, I recommend you do so as the books are connected and it would be impossible to pick up book 2 without knowing book 1).

About the author: Stephen Lawhead is a master storyteller. The way he uses words in his descriptions, dialogue and action are superb.

About the book: The story is an engaging adventure. It takes place across time and dimensions. It offers nuggets of history and customs that are fascinating. As a sequel and "middle" book, it continues to develop the story established in the first book, yet there are no resolutions. Usually "middle" books in trilogies are my least favorite. The good guys and bad guys are still after the skin map in order to understand the intricacies of ley travel.  we do not know anything about the "Bone House" until the last 2 chapters and towards the end of the book I am still concludes at the significance of this place or how it specifically fits together with the rest of the story. All we get is a glimpse with no explanation, yet it is clear this is an important place. Confused? So am I!

About the characters: In this book, we see Kit emerge with a purpose, we witness him in the process of "becoming." By the end of this second installation, we can see how Kit will become the hero. Mina continues to show she is a smart and resourcefull woman. It is hard not to like her...a lot.In the search for the skin map we meet remarkable characters.

Overall I would recommend this book based on its series.

I received this book for free by Thomas Nelson publishers through the Booksneeze blogger program in exchange for my honest review.

Angel Needing a Family (Domestic Adoption Opportunity)

2 What are your thoughts?
Meet Alex!



Alex is a 5 year old little boy with Cerebral Palsy and he needs a family. Isn't he just adorable? His smile just melts my heart. He has lived in a children's rehabilitation hospital in New York since he was born.  His birth parents have been involved with him the whole time, but are unable to care for him at home and have come to the loving decision to place him for adoption.

Spence- Chapin, an adoption agency, has been trying to find him a family for several months now, but there have been only a few inquiries, with no matches yet.

Alex is eligible for an adoption subsidy and Medicaid, regardless of parental income, in any state through his eighteenth birthday.  The adoption subsidy from new York is very generous and would really go a long way to helping a family provide for Alex.  Spence-Chapin's adoption fees for special needs are $1,000-3,000 on a sliding scale, but they can waive this based on family need.

They are looking for a strong family that has resources near by and parents no older than 45 years old, family size is not an issue, as long as they have a strong plan for Alex's care.

You can CLICK HERE and read more about Alex from Spence-Chapin's website.

If you are interested, let me know and I will put you in contact with the lady that is working hard to find him a family. You can also help spread the word about Alex!

Adoption is the most difficult thing I have had to do, but it has been worth every minute! I will not give you a moving story, or bring tears to your eyes, because if God leads you to adopt it will not be because of my words, but because that feeling you will have in your heart.You will know that Alex is your son. On the meantime, I am praying for you, praying for God to make that abundantly clear, for you to dream about holding Alex in your arms and offering him a hope and a future, and all the love you can give. I don't know who you are, but I am praying!

Monday, February 6, 2012

My People

19 What are your thoughts?
I sat at the edge of my seat in the large arena. Of all the sessions we had attended during the conference, this was the event I had been looking forward to. The black stage at the center stood high, shining lights with hues of red, blue, yellow and white. Music played softly. The president of the Missionary Alliance Church invited the international workers to come forward, and begin the “Parade of the Nations.”

From around the arena, men, women, and children began to walk around the stage and through the aisles. They gracefully held on to the flags that represented the countries they had come to call their home, and they wore clothes that identified them with those nations. Dozens and dozens of flags and people marched around amongst the rest of us. Such a large arena. So many aisles. It seemed dozens were not enough. Yet, it was humbling to see the people who had given their lives and followed the call to go to the ends of the world.

The music stopped and so did the workers. Then Gary Benedict, from the stage, teased, “Come on, that was unimpressive! Let’s see a real parade!” 

The flags, along with the music, continued to move. Mexico, Brazil, China, Ukraine, Uganda. Country after country walked by. Retired missionaries, new missionaries, those waiting to go; all of them taking up their flags. More dozens, then a hundred, two hundred. Families marching around with their small children and babies in their arms. More and more international workers joining the parade. The arena, large and airy, was full. There were no open spaces, only people, only flags. 

I was overwhelmed, in awe, watching  intently as flags danced before me. I could not contain my tears.

Will you go?

The words startled me.

Will you go?

Tears ran freely.

Yes, Lord. If you send me, I will go.

More tears.

I will send you to the ones the world sees as less than perfect. I will send you to a people group that has been unloved. I will send you to your own people. Will you go?

I was weeping.

Yes Lord, here I am. Send me.

                                                                        *

Shortly after returning home from the conference, Andy and I began the process of becoming missionaries. We both received God’s message and we were convinced that meant Mexico: my home, my own people.  We would be involved with ministry to the poor, the unlovable ones, those that the world sees as less than perfect.

That summer, Andy led a short-term missions trip to Ensenada. I was greatly pregnant with Nichole but I came along anyway as a great opportunity to dip my toes in what our future would be like. We served the poor, building them homes, working with their kids, offering hope. My own people, the ones I had seen as less than me. Those I never cared to look at in the eye or acknowledge as people. This time, I came to them with humility, recognizing that we were all the same, and we all had much to offer one another. I fell in love with the Mexicans for the first time, and recognized that I had been one of them all along. While that experience was beautiful and redeeming to my heart, I was frustrated.

Lord, I can’t hear you. I am questioning if this is what you really want for our family. I do not feel a burning passion for missions, my heart is not overflowing, I do not feel as if this is it. Why won’t you speak to me?

When Nichole was born, we stepped back from the missionary process. The fact that Nichole had Down syndrome and so did the Children’s Pastor’s daughter was clearly not a coincidence. It was God ordained. I began to look at the “job description” God had given me, and recognized that God had not affirmed my thoughts of Mexico because that was not what He meant. I realized the “call” was to a different people group, the Down syndrome community. The world does look at people with Down syndrome as less than perfect, and through my own daughter, they had become my people.

                                                                        *

We have a small little church, about 50 people. When Andy was asked to come here, we were told they needed someone to preach, lead worship, and someone comfortable around people with disabilities. It amazes me that in such a small church, at least 25% of our people have special needs, some disabilities are very “mild” and you would not know about it, while others are obvious. 

                                                                        *

I sat on the pew, listening to my husband preach about becoming a “Healing Community.” 

Then I heard His voice once more.

These are your people.

Slowly, I looked around our church.

These are the ones the world sees as less than perfect. This is a people group that has been unloved. Because of the children I have given to you, these are your own people. 

Nichole’s beautiful life led us to adopt Nina, and for reasons only God knew at the time, we adopted a child with Cerebral palsy, although I really wanted to adopt a little boy with Down syndrome. Yet, for the first time, the significance of the events that took place at the Conference became so clear that I fought the tears that threatened to burst from deep inside of me. Almost 5 years ago I had The Dream, where God made it known to me that Nichole would be born with Down syndrome. Two days after "The Dream," God called me to go to those that the world sees as less than perfect , to my own people, during the Parade of the Nations. Then 2 years ago, we adopted Nina.

Oh Lord, you called me to go to those that the world sees as less than perfect, the broken ones. Now I hear you again. This is the mission I have from you. So here I am Lord, use me!

*

I have a burning passion to see the church embrace people with disabilities. Although they might seem broken, they instead show us the brokenness of our own hearts. Our churches need them, we all need them. There is great freedom and beauty when we find ourselves surrounded by a group of people that loves unconditionally, gives freely, and worships with no restrain. It allows the rest of us to do the same as we look at them and learn from them how to come before the Lord. We can come as we are, with no pretense, no holding back, just us, with all our brokenness and garbage. What a beautiful Healing Community we can become, what great beauty is found in the middle of those with disabilities, among my people.

Friday, February 3, 2012

A Man With Down Syndrome Shares His Testimony

2 What are your thoughts?
I came across this video thanks to one of my on-line friends. Ryan is a young adult with Down syndrome. He went on a missions trip to Peru and he inspired and offered hope to so many!

Enjoy!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Blogging Awards? Sharing the Blog Love!

5 What are your thoughts?
I didn't know there was such a thing as "blog awards." Did you know that?  So how fun to receive an award!

Kelly from Ahimsa Mama nominated me for the Versatile Blogger Award. Thanks Kelly! Kelly is in my writing class and she is a great writer! She always leaves me wanting to read more.

And Sarah from Moments of Exhilaration nominated me for...either the Versatile Blog Award or the 7X7 Award. Ha! I don't even know! Sarah has really challenged me to write with integrity, no holding back, no pretending, but being real.


 Recipients of this award are asked to:
  • Thank the person that nominated their blog for the award with a backlink to them.
  • List 7 things about themselves.
  • Award 15 newly discovered blogs with the award and notify them of the award.


Seven things about myself:

1. I am originally from Mexico and Spanish is my first language. Which by default, means that English is my second language. At least, it used to be! I don't have anyone to speak Spanish with and most of my thoughts, writing, and dreaming happen in English now. My mom and sisters like to make fun of me when I speak Spanish now.

2. I do not know how to cook anything Mexican, just in case you were wondering about that.

3. I LOVE nutella.

4. Before I had Nichole (my daughter with Down syndrome) a friend of mine shared with me she had a dream of having a special needs ministry at our church, specifically, a VBS for kids with special needs. I told her it was a great idea, but I thought at the time "I probably would not be a part of it, special needs is just not my thing." Ha! One more time....HA! I am so very passionate about this now!

5. I said when I was younger I would never marry a pastor. Ha! Again!

6. My favorite snack is a nice tray of cream-cheese stuffed jalapeno poppers.

7. Currently, I am watching the show "Monk" and I love it!

So I am sharing the blog love and nominating other bloggers:

Gillian from Pocket Lint. Another pastor's wife that does not pretend to have it all together. Her honesty will refresh you!

Marnie from Greene Parenting. My favorite when it comes to talking openly about adoption. And she has such a witty sense of humor you will love her!

Beck from Beck Far From Home. Yet another pastor's wife. She has an incredible heart and I am sure her words will bless you.

Jessica from Our Family For His Glory. I have known Jessica since we were in college and she really is amazing! What you read is who she is, and she is a great mom that has her priorities straight. She is not perfect but she is doing the best she can and I hope to be like her someday.

Joy from Joy In This Journey. I recently discovered her blog and I love that she is not afraid to write about what is "messy." There is something about being authentic, isn't it?

Kasey from These Five Of Mine. She writes beautiful devotionals and inspirational pieces. I have asked her to blog post for me some time!

Bethany from Our Perfectly Imperfect Life. She has 2 girls with Down syndrome and she is an incredible photographer. Do I need to say more?

Jolene Philo from Different Dream for My Child. Jolene is a champion for all of us that have children with special needs. It is not only her books but her blog that offers so much to us parents as we navigate the world of disability. I am a huge fan of Jolene!

Glenn Myers from Deep Wells. Glenn is also an author, I will be sharing his book "Seeking Spiritual Intimacy" with you soon. Glenn was one of our college professors, his classes were always my favorite ones. He is also my husband's friend and mentor, a second father to him. I would encourage you to visit his blog, you will find how to seek spiritual intimacy, you will be moved, challenged, and encouraged.

John Stumbo from John Stumbo's Blog: An Honest Look Into a Mysterious Journey. I am not just saying this is a blog you should visit because this is my husband's uncle. John has wrestled with God, really. Have you ever wondered why God has allowed something bad to happen in your life? Why God will not offer healing the way you expect Him to? "God is in this, and God is good"

So take some time and visit these blogs. Great stuff.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Who Will Win Today? and CP Connection # 3

6 What are your thoughts?
Who will win today? This is a question I started asking Nina. Is Nina going to win, or will Cerebral Palsy win?

It is like Nina is in a boxing match against her CP. She swings her little arms hoping to punch her CP, but sometimes CP comes at her with  a fierce vengeance that knocks her down.

Nina started walking with no braces, just her bare feet. This is really great progress, it means she is getting stronger and balancing better. Without her braces her left foot pops up and she walks on her toes, but she is walking, and that is always good! Actually, it is great!

The puzzling part is when she does great and the next day she just cannot do it. She gives up, she believes it is too hard, even if she has done it 10 times before. So, in an effort to try to encourage her, this is an example of a conversation we might have:

Me: Who is in charge of your body? Cerebral Palsy, or Nina?
Nina: I don't know.
Me: Can Cerebral Palsy walk?
Nina: No
Me: Can Nina walk?
Nina: Yes!
Me: So who wins, Cerebral Palsy or Nina?
Nina: Me! I can walk!
Me: Yes! And Cerebral Palsy cannot stop you from walking! It tries to stop you, but it can't! We are beating Cerebral palsy, we are winning! We are showing it who is the boss of you!
Nina: I am the boss of me!
Me: So every time Cerebral Palsy wants to stop you from doing something, you need to show it who the boss is!

I am not sure how this approach will work, but the more we can get her to take ownership of her abilities, the better and better she will do. We don't want CP to be something she sees as her "enemy" but we also do not want her to be beaten by her disability. She can do anything she sets her mind to, and slowly, we are making progress. So the last few days as Nina has been taking independent steps without her leg braces, it is encouraging to see that. Slowly, slowly, she is showing Cerebral Palsy who is the boss of her body!

I would love to hear from young adults and adults with Cerebral palsy. is this an okay approach? I do not want her to be resentful of her CP, but I want her to take ownership of her abilities. What would you advice?








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