Monday, October 22, 2012

Always Enough

“I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever Father does, the Son does also. For Father loves the Son and shows him everything he is doing. He will show him HOW to do even greater works.” John 5:19-20

As I step foot upon this red earth again, I remember why I need Father so much here.

Feeling broken by my own inadequacy to know how---how to bring revival here, how to heal hearts, and change lives for eternity. 

When everything is so much harder here. Raw.

The culture-shock hits me full force as the traffic piles up and people jump into the road with no thought or care to their lives. When we realize the truck is broken because the mechanic we trusted gave it to someone else who stole parts out of our engine, when no one takes responsibility for their actions, when I'm sick with the flu still, and jet-lagged, constantly sweating without ac or a fan, where everywhere I turn is a face that looks hopeless or empty, where so many things are out of my control, and when I feel the full weight of this ministry on my shoulders---all the people we need, all the resources to fulfill this call---

this world can often seem too much. 

Especially when I remember there's no delivery pizza. 

The burdens pile high. The losses feel too real. And there have been a lot these past months.

Loss of friendships and betrayal,

Loss of the baby and miscarriages of friends,

Loss of rest, 

Loss of trust,

Loss of baby Faida who died somewhere in Congo when I wanted her so badly to join our home

Loss of “Precious,” fought so hard for out of the slum, only to lose her back to a life of selling her body

The losses can seem too much.

The clouds roll in thick and ominous.

The storm is coming as dark as my soul feels in this moment. 

But I've missed the storms here so much.

I sit on the porch trying to feel my Jesus. To get hidden inside His heart. 

Am I ready to come back to all of this? My heart a patchwork of scar tissue, still tender where He's put me back together. Time and time again. 

I read through John and I see my Jesus again. How he's felt everything I feel.

I see him teaching and giving away, healing, and getting hidden again, feeling anguish, feeling concern for his disciples, praying that they will love each other in unity, being frustrated, being joyful, but always listening to His Father's voice and beginning again.

And I see him suffer. Lay down his life for the ones that he loves, for his friends. 

And that this is the life we are called to. To suffering, to joy, and to dependence. 

“The spirit alone gives eternal life. Human effort accomplishes nothing.” John 6:63

That's from the Bible. I let it sink deep into my soul on this porch in Uganda where I feel His pain, my pain, and my own frailty.

His spirit, is the only thing that matters.

And I feel the strongest desire I've ever felt, just to be with Him, in heaven, just to look into his eyes and have him tell me that it's all going to be ok. Just to hear him say, “well done.” 

But it's not time yet. 

And I know that I can't run away.

Africa is a mirror. Where you have to look deep into your soul and see that you are not enough.

Some people crumble up under it.

But I know that He is. His spirit gives life, where there is no life. 

He breathes, and situations shift. 

I do not have what it takes, but by His spirit, everywhere my feet will tread, He will give to us. 

I am weak. And I can do nothing on my own. I'm completely dependent on Him. 

And perhaps my surrender, perhaps my “can't,” perhaps my weakness is an opportunity for Heaven.

And perhaps this is where He wants me. So desperate, hiding away in Him. 

Only able to fumble through imitating His goodness.

I do not know the “how.”

I only know Who. 

But I trust, 

that He is always enough. 

And slowly, I remember this is part of what I have come to love about living here---amongst the poor, amidst the challenges---how easily it exposes my need for my Savior, for my Father---for a goodness and a love that is beyond myself. 

And that it's ok to be needy for Him.

For His words, for his breath, for His spirit. 

And it's never too late to get hidden. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012



“Even a modest pleasure can be a luxury if its scarce enough---ordering coffee at a restaurant, buying a book, which is why deprivation is one of the most effective, although unenjoyable, cures for the hedonic treadmill.” -Gretchen Rubin, The Happiness Project-

It strikes me that after two and a half months of living in a land full of luxury, I'm ready throw myself back into a place of lack, because of love. And I do look forward to it. To unpacking my suitcase (finally) and settling into my own little home, with my dogs, in the raw beauty and infuriation of all that is Africa.

And that actually, not having things for a little while, is quite healthy for the soul. When you don't have running water, or when the power is out, or the food is not what you're used to, something as simple as turning ona light, or eating a croissant, can bring you such happiness.

Happiness is important.

Some might think it's selfish, but actually statistics show that happier people bring other people happiness, and are more altruistic than unhappy people. I mean is there anything worse than being around an unhappy person?

I've been reading this book, The Happiness Project for the last month, and really ruminating on what does it mean to be happy, and what does it mean for me, and for all of us? I'm beginning my own Happiness Project. 

It truly takes a dedication of the heart, mind, and soul to choose joy even in the face of tragedy or more often than not, small annoyances.

How to learn this with small children's shoes, and stuffed animals, and office supplies strewn across a floor that somehow has to magically make it into six duffle bags.

Still wishing I was Snow White with a room full of helpful birds.

It has been a glorious and yet heart wrenching season jam-packed full of days with family, new friends, and days of runnings around speaking, trying to spread this message of hope:

that God's heart beats for us, and for the least of these, and for my tribe in Uganda.

And He's calling all of us into something deeper with Him.

So is it selfish to pursue our own happiness? Especially if its not going to hurt someone else?

Sitting in the sun and breathing for five minutes with our eyes closed.

And that part of happiness is keeping our own resolutions, our own set of principles which guide our lives and help us keep our integrity.


Love generously.

Run more.

Be more positive.

Take care of me.

Be less serious.

I think it makes us better people.

“A sense of growth is so important to happiness that its often preferable to be progressing to the summit rather than to be at the summit.” THP

So even, if I haven't yet attained my goal, if I'm growing towards it, I should allow myself the pleasure of happiness.

And celebrate the small victories when I'm able to keep one of the resolutions I've made to myself, to God, to my husband, or to my family.

While the last two months have been crazy busy, and hard, I'll allow myself the brief pleasure of feeling that I finished well. I did what I set out to do. I listened to my Father. I said, yes.

And while there were losses, and I'm certain some balls got dropped, I was able to thrive through the midst of extensive travel, a surgery, the loss of a baby, a speaking tour, stress, demands, deadlines, and still managed to crawl back up into His arms, where I find my home.

So even though I'm not Wonder Woman, and I can't do it all, as my hair, my toe nails, and my bags have seriously estimated at this point--

I've been faithful with the little I've been given.

I've stared in the face of some of the biggest challenges of my life, and what they mirrored back is that I have the strength to overcome them.

Broken, yes, but not hard.

Somewhere in Africa, God's been building something inside me. If we stay tender, and we let Him, He can do something awe-inspiring.

And sometimes we need to stop and celebrate that.

The spitfire moments of joy, we can grasp and hold, before they slip in between our fingers.

A slice of heaven.

Before we move on to the next enormous task in front of us.

Jesus told the disciples, “Freely as you have received, freely give.” And He sent them out.

It's all about receiving more, and giving more away.

And as I stand at the precipice of this next season, I carry this truth in my heart.

If I let Him, He will do it.....

Monday, October 08, 2012

The Weeping Room- A Pathway to Strategy

I'm at Bethel Church in Redding, California and had an encounter last night with Father that was so real and so amazing. It reminded me of the teaching of Jennifer Toledo (my personal hero) on The Weeping Room which I am re-posting here. (Jen, I hope this is accurate--it's one of the most beautiful revelations of Father's heart.)

But also that entering into Father's heart and feeling how His heart breaks---for all the raped women, for all the scared children, for all the lonely missionaries, for ALL His children----that it is a pathway into strategy.  I feel like this is where I'm at right now. I've spent many years in the Weeping Room, and I think, I hope, I've gotten small enough to enter through the other door where all the blueprints of Heaven are. It's been a lonely room with Father, but I feel that is about to change.

Last night, as I laid on the floor weeping, I felt I was also birthing something. I don't know what it all looks like yet, but I know that it is a new thing. Something new is coming and that it only comes through intimacy.  Through Papa's heart. A stamp of approval that isn't about which thing I'm a part of, or what ministry is my backing, or who knows about me, but the fact that Father is behind me and He is the one covering me and sending me. And He is joining together those who have the same heart.

He gives His plans to His kids. To those who are willing to go deep with Him.
I pray you find the courage to do so.
Because on the other side there is so much reward.

To all the Kingdom carriers, to all the pioneers, to all those on the front lines taking the hits and carrying His heart. He sees you.

Help is coming.

The Weeping Room – Pathway to Strategy
By Jennifer Miller Toledo
One day as I was in prayer the Lord began to open up my eyes to a spiritual encounter. I saw myself being taken up to heaven. Before me I saw a huge house with many rooms. I knew instantly that this was the ‘Father’s House’. I could feel the love of the father drawing me in, so I began to run as fast as I could to enter the house. As I entered, the Lord walked with me through many rooms, each one packed with spiritual meaning.
He quietly invited me to follow Him into the most beautiful room in the whole house – the intimacy room. It was absolutely extravagant and beautiful. Upon entering the room, I was overwhelmed with love and wanted to stay there forever. In the Spirit I could hear other people (other believers) in all the different rooms of the house. Some were studying books in the library; others were becoming intoxicated in the spiritual wine cellar. I was somewhat surprised that everyone wasn’t in the intimacy room since it was the most beautiful room in the whole house.
The Weeping Room
As I was admiring this intimacy chamber, I noticed a little wooden hatch door on the floor adjacent to the bed. It seemed really odd to me, because it wasn’t fancy and hardly seemed to fit with the rest of the room. I asked the Lord why it was there, and He told me that it led down to another room in the house. I asked Him why He would put this door so close to the most beautiful thing in the whole room, the bed. He responded, “I keep it here, because down there is where I spend most of my time”. Instantly my curiosity was stirred so I asked what was down there. He said it was called the “Weeping Room”.
Although it hardly sounded like a room I wanted to be in, there was a cry in my heart that said that if that is where the Lord spends His time, then that is where I want to go. I asked Him if I could go down there with Him, and He responded “Very few will choose to go down there, it’s not extravagant like this room, it’s lonely, it’s not comfortable, and you have to get very low to fit through the door.” I told Him that I didn’t care what the conditions would be like; I just really wanted to be wherever He was.
So we opened the little hatch door and began to slowly climb down a dark staircase until we came upon the tiny room. I had to get on my knees to fit through the door because it was so small. As we entered the room it was very simple. All it consisted of was a small wooden chair. One of the walls had a small window in it. The Lord took His seat on the chair and turned His face to look out the window. Instantly I became aware of why this room was called the weeping room.
You Could Hear Every Cry
As you looked out the window – you could see and hear every single cry coming from people on the earth. You could see every single act of injustice all at the same time. Every starving child crying out to God, every woman being raped, every moan of the rejected … you could hear every prayer, every cry all at the same time. The Lord sat in His chair and watched and heard it all.
At once I was overwhelmed with intercession and began to weep. I wept for hours. I wept for those who were hurting, but even more – I was undone by this beautiful King who would choose to spend His time in this place; This King who paid such attention to every cry and who was so full of compassion. As I sat and wept with the Lord, I began to ‘feel’ His heart-and all my selfish ambition began to fade away
While we were in that place I noticed that there was another door in the weeping room. I asked the Lord what was behind that door and He told me that was where the ‘Strategy Room’ was. As He said those words, instantly in my spirit I knew in that room divine strategy for end-time revival was available. Although the door was still closed, I recognized that Wisdom and Revelation where in there.
Divine Strategy Room
Heavenly blueprints were laid out to see the fulfillment of His kingdom coming to earth from that room. It was like the hidden room that everybody searches for. Everyone longs to have divine strategy. I immediately asked if I could go in there and the Lord soberly told me that I didn’t ‘fit through the door’. I instantly understood that I had to spend time in the weeping room. As I began to really apprehend the heart of God for the poor and the broken, then issues of my soulish nature would be stripped away until I would become small enough to fit through the door.
At that moment everything became clear. This was the only way to access divine strategy. From the place of intimacy God invites us in to a deeper level – He beckons us into the weeping room- a place where we choose to see what He sees and feel what He feels. And as we spend time getting the heart of God, things of our flesh begin to be stripped away until we are small enough to fit through the door that leads to the strategy room.
I had this encounter over two years ago but I believe that God is now moving many in the church from the place of intimacy into weeping. This will lead them into the strategy room. In actuality, you never have to leave the intimacy room; you just discover the deeper levels. Many have already surrendered themselves to the weeping room and extravagantly pursued the heart of God for the broken- they are now being invited into the strategy room.
Invitation to Divine Strategy
I had another encounter a little over a year ago in which I heard a loud voice say, “It’s Time!” and in the Spirit I saw the strategy room door swing open. God is inviting us into divine strategy that will release a global harvest of souls, and establish the revelation of His kingdom on earth through overcoming saints.
I believe that as we enter the “strategy room,” we will be compelled and moved by what we have seen and felt in the weeping room. I have a sense that some have gone before us into the strategy room. Unfortunately, most quickly forgot what the strategy was for and used it to build their own kingdom (Haggai 1:3-7). God is in the process of raising up a whole company of believers who are repulsed at the idea of building their own kingdom. This company will have their hearts truly branded with passion and compassion. These are the ones that God is looking to release into the strategy room. “It’s Time!”

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Baby E- story of adoption

Baby E* is just the cutest little guy ever. And he just got adopted! 
Baby E, 11 months

They say that once you hold your baby you forget everything that happened before. All the pain, all the tears dissolve into the glow of tiny fingers and tiny toes.

The red birth becomes bright.

Even though E* did not come out of my body. In many ways it feels like he's mine. And when I look at his cheeks and his eyes, and hear his soft baby noises, I too feel the memory slipping away.

But I don't want to forget that he's a miracle.

Early this year, N* showed up on our doorstep on a Friday evening. Just a young girl of 14. Just another child in need of help. She asked to sleep under our veranda, to stay warm from the rain. She said someone had told her we help girls.
I don't know what it was about N* particularly. Maybe it was those big dimples. But I felt a tug at my heart. Just let her stay.

We have so many kids that need our help and it didn't seem like the “smartest,” decision at the time. A decision that could have repercussions. But I guess it was the holy spirit breathing close.

She was an orphan. Her parents died leaving her to the mercy of relatives who had too many children of their own to take care of her. N* was a burden to them. So they decided to sell her into a child marriage to a local village man. N* refused.

One night as she was walking home from buying food at the market, the man jumped her and raped her, tomatoes smashed on the ground beside her.
So N decided to run away. Her only dream, was to go back to school. But here, you have to pay for it.

N* stayed at our office for 2 weeks while we tried to pray about what to do. She slept on a small mattress on the floor and she helped with cooking. Every day I saw her and looked into those eyes again and could feel the pleading.

Take me home.

Nancy was older than our other girls, but when I prayed, I felt God say “This one.”
When N* moved into our Rescue Home for girls we didn't know she was pregnant. N* didn't know she was pregnant. But a few weeks later she started showing signs.
I remember how defeated she looked when we told her she was pregnant. Like all the hope in her world had turned to ash in front of her. No more school. No more future.

She told me, “Mama I can't take care of this baby.”

And we told her she wouldn't have to.
I didn't have a plan. I didn't know what God would do. In fact, I had a lot of problems staring me in the face. How would we take care of a baby in our home?
Who would we find to adopt the baby?

It all seemed insurmountable. So I turned to Jesus.

All of a sudden, I could see God's plan all along. Bringing N to us so she wouldn't have to suffer alone, and allowing us to take her in, so she could be a party of a family, and so E* could be brought into this world to bless another family very far away.
When N* went into labor on Friday, I put God to the test again.

God, you brought her to us, now you have to see her through this.
I can say, it was one of the hardest, worst, few days of my life. To watch this daughter of mine in so much pain, for 3 days, and to know we were at the mercy of the medical facilities in northern Uganda.

I don't know how many times N told me, “Mama I can't. Mama I have a wound. Make them take the baby.” But when it came time to push Nancy was focused and calm. God had descended on her.

I held N's hand as she pushed. I watched E's head emerge into this world.
And we did it all without a doctor present.
Afterwards, N started bleeding a lot and her uterus was not contracting. Mama Joy and I just looked at each other just praying, and crying.

And once again, I told God, you did not bring her this far to let her die on me.

Those few moments seemed endless.
But she lived and is she is fine. Her only request has been lots of chicken. Which I am happy to concede to.
And E* is asleep in his basket beside me.

And I know without a doubt, God is a God of miracles.

I see it in the eyes of Bijou as she holds baby Priscilla who was also born this week. A baby who most likely would have died without us getting her to the hospital.
And both these children, and their mothers are alive because of Him.
I shudder to think what would have happened to both of them if we had not been here.
I shudder to think of the many children who die because someone said no.
Thank you for helping me do what I love to do. Thank you for helping us every day, to say yes.
Thank you for bringing a life into this world, who will be loved.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

A little bit of heaven

This thing called peace. How we search for it somewhere out there in the deep blue horizon, on the helm of sailboat, in the bottom of a glass, in the perfect dress, or in the next adventure.

Peace is in a moment where we can feel God's love speaking to us in silence, in nature, in a moment of need. 

In His affirmation of who we are.

When I get really tired, when I wear myself out with all this world-traveling, and speaking up for the oppressed, and meeting of other people's needs, and when I feel guilty that I can't do it all---answer every email, be kind to every person, be there for my family, be there in Africa, save the world.....I go back to what I know.

That God is here, now, with me. I just have to be still enough to feel Him. Breathe Him in and let the shattering truth in---that He loves me. Regardless of what I'm able or unable to do.

I go back to this holy solitude. 

I used to think that Heaven was a place where we we went to get lots of stuff. Lots of crowns and jewels, and for all intensive purposes, got “bedazzled.” Where we got all the cool stuff we didn't get to have on earth. I thought that was the reward. To be honest, I never really contemplated heaven too much because I was so busy with all this earth stuff.

And it does consume me, more often than I would like to admit.
Those designer jeans. That person who pulled out in front of me in traffic. Delayed flights.

It was Tyson's youth pastor that said something to us the other day. Something I've been contemplating for weeks now.

That the real reward in heaven, apart from God's all-encompassing presence, is all the people, all the faces, those I have loved, and known and given my life away for, and those I do not yet know, whose life I impacted in some way. 

Them, their children, their grandchildren, all of us in Heaven together laughing and being happy that we all get to share in the joy.

As he spoke, I imagined all of them, coming up to me, hugging me, and honoring the small acts of love I did every day. Those relationships, those moments, where I chose love, chose joy, chose hope, chose self-sacrifice, chose forgiveness, and chose to share of Jesus' love to a stranger.

Even the acts I thought went unnoticed.

That the real reward is always based in relationship. Ours with Father, and ours with those we have loved. 

We don't get to take the “stuff' with us, but we do get to take the people we loved into His Kingdom.

Now when I think of Jesus on the cross, I think of Him imagining Heaven and this big party where all of us are there with Him and all the ones He died for are honoring Him for His love and His sacrifice.

I like to think that is the “joy set before Him,” that He was thinking of.

He was thinking of my face.
Your face.

And the big feast, with the wine flowing, and the people dancing, where we all get to share in His joy because we've been a part of making it happen.

It makes me cry to think about it. That is my joy. The joy set before me. To see more enter into freedom and into His Kingdom of love.

It really puts it all into perspective when I can lose sight of what we are really living for. 

Peace is really knowing that we've done what Father asked us to do.

And that He's really proud of us.

Now, when I get tired, I keep that picture before me.

All the faces I will meet someday, all my family, all the girls and women I love, and continually fight for---

All the generations together in one place, honoring one another for the love and the sacrifice.

And in the middle of it all, is Father, smiling.

*This post is dedicated to my fellow laid down lovers out there who fight on a daily basis so that more might enter into Father's love. You know who you are. I love you and I honor you.