On Wednesday, October 11, 2017 we arrived in Charlotte after a 2 year 8 month absence and here are some things we find a little different...
Americans are refreshingly friendly, hopeful, warm, affectionate and accommodating.
"Holy Moly, who put the steering wheel on the right!?"
Parking spaces are GIGANTIC.
Traffic is HORRIFIC!
There are loads of biting bugs and it's a little hotter than it should be.
Esther on a drive through Davidson: "Those houses are mansions! Is that one house or two together?"
We heart Mexican food.
But the biggest take-away...is the privilege and honor of beholding the beauty of Christ's church in different locations. It is beautiful to behold our collection of fellowships who adopt us as their own extended church family. To experience their care, concern, hugs, feeding, and interest is heaven on earth. How marvelous that the Spirit of God knits such love and unity across cultures and oceans.
Wednesday, January 2, 2019
25 December 2018On this Christmas morning, I am completely overcome with thanksgiving and satisfaction in our Lord who has truly lavished us with an abundance of earthly and spiritual blessings.I watch our children delight in receiving long-anticipated gifts with unbridled eagerness and joy. I lay in the floor and gaze up at our cheerful tree and ponder the hidden history and bounteous blessings kept by the treasury of hodgepodge ornaments. Ornaments marking my first Christmas; those lovingly crafted by oldest and dearest friends; an ornament with the face of a former student now morphed into manhood; the Curious George ornament reminding me to pray for an exceedingly curious student giver from very long ago; salt dough ornaments made by our children’s friends and ornaments marking each of our children’s births. These baubles are signposts on our road through this beautiful life- marking each treasured season and beckoning us to remember the friends, family, students, co-workers…all souls with whom we’ve had the privilege of encountering…souls who have been and are so faithful to reflect the image of God to us, helping us to grasp more fully who He is.Next, I listen to my favourite carol, O Holy Night and instantly I am a girl of eleven, sitting in the sanctuary of a Methodist church listening to my mother’s beautiful alto voice sing truth…"Long lay the world in sin and error piningTill He appeared and the soul felt its worth.A thrill of hope the weary world rejoicesFor yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!"My soul feels Your worth and in my heart, I fall on my knees.Next, I ask my love to play Little Drummer Boy, my grandfather’s favourite Christmas carol, and ponder that I, though comparatively poor and rhythmically challenged, am unable to play a drum for the King, but I can and I shall offer my life as an instrument for Him to play.O, Lord, make it a masterpiece. I contentedly sip my tea and nibble my slab of bara birth, (Welsh fruit loaf), slathered in butter exactly as instructed by the loving baker and shed tears of thanksgiving for good and perfect gifts lovingly bestowed on us by the Father of Lights (James 1:17).Father, thank you for the greatest, highest, and best gift—Your glorious self whom you wrapped in mortal flesh. Jesus, thank you for the laying down of life and limb that we may live and love like You. Spirit, thank you for your gentle instruction and patient course correction that leads us ever onward and upward to the warm, luminous love of Father. My soul feels your worth. Amen.
Friday, October 13, 2017
A delightfully generous, wacky, fun Scottish friend of mine gave me a bunch of beautiful flowers with massive buds for Christmas. All through Christmas and New Year's, these flower buds slowly opened into full bloom to reveal beautiful tiger lillies. Watching these lillies bloom reminded me of what I get to do; only the "blooms" are the hearts of three precious ladies as they "unfold like flowers before Him." Together we are learning to listen to God and respond in obedience. The best part is that the unfolding just happens. It's not forced. At times it's messy and I often feel like I have no idea what I'm doing or how to help them see what God is up to through the heart-breaking circumstances. We meet-up every other week to help each other identify how God is working and challenge each other to live into His life-changing, leave-no-stone-unturned, transforming, life-giving Truth of who He is and who we are in Him. It takes courage, vulnerability and humility to let others see the real struggles and ask others to hold you to a course of action, but the fruit is visible and contagious. Jesus said, "Go and make disciples." What an honor for us all!
A lovely lady from our church invites some friends to cafe. Friends show up for a breakfast and now they come each week. These friends foster a 16-year-old girl called "K." K says, "You are all so lovely. I'd love to volunteer here." Marshall says "YES please!" K joins us in the kitchen and starts coming to other things like: church, youth club, and life group. During an Alpha session one evening, K goes on and on about about Jesus. Amy looks at her and asks, "K, it sounds like you really believe. Do you?" K responds with an emphatic "Yes. I do. I do believe." And now we have the privilege of being part of K's journey to know Christ and make Him known.
I recently had a chat with a neighbor who is dealing with some fear about family issues. She said, "I have been praying to the Lord that I might get back into church after a long absence and I never expected Him to send the church to me. You lot are my church." Those were God's words to us through our neighbor. Be His church to these people. Faithfully serve and love them. Make yourself accessible and available. Practice the ministry of presence. First bask in the Lord's presence and then, be present for those He sends our way.
Friday, January 6, 2017
As Brussels Airlines 2047 ascends through the layer of billowing clouds eclipsing my vision as in an artic snow storm, I listen to "Give Me Jesus" by Jeremy Camp. The plane emerges through the clouds and my eyes behold a sea of white ripples bathed in warm, radiant, golden rays. On the horizon where the cloud sea kisses the sky, careless strokes of pink and orange haphazardly tint the azure canvas of sky. I am wonderfully reminded that the sun is always here inadvertently creating all manner of beauty even though I can't always see it. For I am bound to this earth. But something in me is celestial; filled with longing to soar above the cloud layer and behold this beauty and then I realise that figuratively, I can. I can live above the troubles and cares of this worldly life that sometimes eclipse my view of God. I can enjoy His beauty, majesty, and peace by fixing my gaze resolutely upon Him each day in the mundane details of living. And soon His glory begins to eclipse the cares and troubles of life. I can fly with Him in this plane of faith and obedience and grace. I can spend my life beholding Him regularly. The words of Horatio Spafford, who wrote It is Well with My Soul resonate deep within me. It is well even when circumstances challenge my peace. I have deep, abiding peace that will carry me to my eternal home and none can rob it. I desire that others have it as well.
Monday, May 16, 2016
Wherever I am, my favourite thing will always be people. People make or break a place and sharing life with people is the greatest blessing there is on this earth. God has asked us to serve here in the UK and that meant leaving our own people for a time. But He has been faithful to supply new relationships and for that we are grateful. There are people from Scotland and Australia and people with Black Country accents that require INTENSE concentration to glean 30% understanding. There are joyful, energetic people and people in tight, impossible spots. People who are lonely, grieving, lost, generous, loving, needy, funny, big-hearted, struggling. I dearly love them all and pray that this loosely organized sometimes chaotic ministry will usher in a bit more of His Kingdom in each soul I encounter. Thank you Jesus for these people.