Wednesday, February 29, 2012

At the Rising of the "Son"

How do you put a good day into two words? You say, "good day." 
but it never ends there, 
you see because the joy in my heart and the smile on my face can't possibly end with saying, "good day." there is something much greater to it. 

It starts out with my morning wake up call the sun peeking through the slight crack at the top of our room (where the little lizards worm their way in, and of course the roaches make themselves feel welcome too), my "biological clock" as some people call it shoots me out of bed at 5:30 am. This gives me just enough time to get out of my cot and move to a more comfortable place to watch the sunrise. In a zombie like fashion I move towards the back of the orphanage behind the bathrooms where there sits a large water tower with our source of water sitting on top of it. The mornings are cool and give me my one excuse to put on a sweatshirt, but as soon as the sun makes it over the mountains the sweatshirt comes off. There are these two TERRIBLE birds that sit directly above me every morning, I know everybody always assumes in the morning the only birds that make noises are the birds that sing beautiful melodies, but I have news for you, those little black birds people call flying rats-they don't make such a beautiful melody. It is more of a gawking noise that I enjoy drowning out with the Lord's voice. However, the view cannot be replaced. Up above the orphanage in perfect view of the mountains and the rising of the sun, there my soul finds rest and Him to remind me of his calling for my life. He reminds me to come up higher. To climb to the heights of the water tower and see where He resides, and where He longs for us to live all the time.

He is raising his sons and daughters up. He is taking the body of Christ to a new level of intimacy and obedience which require only the strength of the Lord. Come up higher brothers and sisters and hear the angels sing. They resound with the belly of their hearts, "holy holy holy is the Lord God almighty." and If we would only come up to the heights and hear in our hearts all day long, "holy holy holy is the Lord God almighty" then we would never trade our affections for another. We would never set our eyes upon anything but the cross, our Savior Jesus Christ, the prince of Peace, the giver of life.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Crazy is...

There are no words to describe the comfort it gives me to look up into the sky and see an infinite amount of stars and know I am falling asleep in the Maker’s arms. It is as if I am standing in front of His face, gazing into His eyes, and seeing those beautiful glittering spots reflecting the Son off of his glass glazed eyes. And yet I am so finite. I am so human. I am so fleeting. And through all of the humanness, the finiteness, and the fleetingness He has still said, “come follow me.” There isn’t a day that goes by in this place that I do not fall to my knees at the King of Kings and say, what on earth have I done to be placed in this position.

Tonight as the day was coming to an end Fritzline and I were finishing baking cookies for her class project and we happened to be in the kitchen with the children started singing. As each of them walked into the kitchen the Lord reminded me of how special each one is and how each of them were created in His image. It didn’t matter how many times I had to say “pa touché” (don’t touch) I couldn’t wipe the smile off of my face. And for the next 30 minutes in the midst of baking cookies and listening to the kids sing, I was so overwhelmed with joy, I knew that even my dancing couldn’t express how lovely my God is. Madame Venite said to Laura, “she is crazy!” and Laura responded and said, “yes she is,” then Madame Venite said, “but she is crazy for Jesus.”

As I jumped in the cold shower this evening I thought about madame Venite saying I am crazy for Jesus. As the cold water fell down my back and as I dried off underneath the starlit sky, I thought, maybe this is a little crazy.

I suppose when we are walking in obedience to Jesus Christ, when He calls us to some “seemingly” extreme calling, we may forget to look around and notice that it is a little crazy.

However crazy to me would be me staying in Alabama and missing out on getting to share the Gospel with my Muslim friend, my Chinese friend, my graphic design friends, Yemima, Catinie, and even Fritzline. Crazy to me is not going for a walk in this tropical paradise of poverty and pausing for a few moments and praying aloud to the God who is sovereign over all. Crazy to me is not rocking a 7 year old 40 lb mute baby to sleep and having her voice be louder to me then anybody else in the world (ironic huh?) Crazy is not following Jesus when He says go.

Each new day brings a new mystery of mercy. Each new day brings a new blessing of burden. And each new day brings a new love of the Lord.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Dining with the Ants

I sleep with cockroaches,
I dine with the ants,
But I care for those who are least in this world and most in the next.

How did I ever come to a place of such fortune? When did the Lord decide to place me in the very place He knew I would love to be. I am beyond humbled, I am face down on the floor, bowing in the presence of the Almighty. My body could care less about the 70 or so bug bites on my arms, because as my heart and mind have come to understand, so has my body, that temptation and pain is very temporary. It cannot hurt when I am laying in bed sick after eating corn mush, it cannot hurt when I have been eaten alive by fleas, because I know I am right now sitting at the throne of God. It would only hurt if my heavenly Father would not have chosen me, and I would not have the grace to live my life only always in the presence of God. But now I sit in the presence of a living God, holy and perfect, I rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I rest at the feet of Him who could have sent me to eternal suffering, yet I am forever a princess of Heaven, by the grace of the living God alone.

This word in James 2 has become especially evident to me in these past couple of weeks:
"My brothers, show no partiality as you hold the faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory. For if a man wearing a gold ring and fine clothing comes into your assembly, and a poor man in shabby clothing also comes in, and if you pay attention to the one who wears the fine clothing and say, "you sit here in a good place," while you say to the poor man, "you stand over there," or, "sit down at my feet," have you not then made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts? Listen my beloved brothers, has not God chosen those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom, which he has promised to those who love him?" James 2:1-5

My mind and heart have never been stretched so much to remember that the Lord is sovereign even over the poorest of the poor. As we go on our daily walk in the community I have to focus on the Lord and pray without ceasing, otherwise I become overwhelmed with this idea that it is not fair for people to have to live like this. But it is true in my heart I have seen the idea of James 2 lived out in David, Catinie, and Yemima. I just have this sweet feeling in my heart as I read through James 2:1-5 and look at these 3 beautiful children and I am reminded that their inheritance is the Kingdom of God, although it seems out of reach at the moment, in just a short time they will be before the throne of God. Having said that, I never imagined when the Lord spoke to me and told me to come here to Haiti because, "the fields are white for harvest" (John 4:35), that it would be to work with these precious children: David, Catinie, and Yemima. They are three beautiful children whom have special needs. Each of them has an incredible story and I am hoping to be able to write a post about but you can start with this one on Catinie. David and Yemima both are making great progress. Yemima is a 4 year old with cerebral palsy, she cannot walk or speak however she has been attempting to speak in the past month which is HUGE PROGRESS. David has also been attempting to speak!

I will include you guys in a prayer I have in my heart for Catinie, I am desperate for her, and longing for the Lord to provide a family for her to come here and fall in love with her as He has shown me to love her. I couldn't have created the love I have for her, and I long for her to have this love for the rest of her life. The Lord however has placed on my heart to be in a close relationship with her until He calls her family here to get her or until He calls her home to Him. Yet, she is not doing well right now. She has been shutting down quickly, in a sense, losing her will to live. This can be very threatening for a child like her, because if she is not interacting with people and hides in the back of the room underneath her bed she could potentially forget everything she has learned. Please pray for the Lord to strengthen her so that she may be able to return to the beautiful bright young girl she has been in the past. She has also been purposefully doing other things because she knows it makes those around her mad and disgusted.

A few weeks ago I had a dream that Catinie ran to me and said my name when i got here to Haiti, and in the past week I prayed the Lord would reveal to me more specifically what this meant. He has revealed to me through other dreams I have had since then, that this dream is not necessarily going to happen here in this world, but that in the next she will not have a single problem. She will run and walk and speak and worship with her entire heart. (Revelation 21:4). In my heart she is the same as any of the other children at this orphanage but to others she is "annoying, gross, unwanted, despised, rejected, etc." It doesn't make sense for me to see her for her heart, but the Lord has given me His eyes for a moment. He has truly said to me, "come and see how I love my children. I know there is a temptation for me to say how the Lord has blessed me, and for you to pass over this moment and think, yea, yea, that's what everybody says. But I want you to see and understand brothers and sisters, the Gospel is not always easy to share, Love does not always come naturally, and Grace is not always easy to give, unless you have your eyes on One person, One thing, and One Kingdom. 

There is not a single vein in my body which desires to love a 7 year old girl who cannot walk or talk and purposefully throws up on me. But every fiber of my soul, with the Spirit inside of it longs to share the Gospel with her even if she can never verbally respond, to hug and kiss her and tell her I love her even if she can never tell me the same, and every fiber of my soul longs to show her grace WITHOUT END. Last night as I lied her down to go to bed I watched as she attempted to interact with the other children and they completely denied her. There is no way for me to describe to you all what this felt to look at her and know how badly she hurts inside. But I felt maybe as Mary did as she looked upon her Son hanging on the cross, bearing the sins of the world (John 19:25). Immediately I had a longing in my heart to redeem her of her pain to pick her up off of the ground and take her into my arms and remind her that I loved her. Truly I felt in my heart, “for we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself” (2 Corinthians 1:8). And even as the verse continues, I felt she had been given the sentence of death. But this was to make me rely not on myself but on God who raises the dead.” I do not know whether Catinie will be restored while I am here, all I may do is becoming increasingly aware of the Spirit’s presence in my heart and His calling me to be here in her life for this time.

I may never be able to say this one reason or that one reason is the reason the Lord has brought me to Haiti, but I will tell you brothers and sisters, in obedience the Lord speaks louder and stronger to you then He has ever before. It is a gift to obey. It is not something we are freely given, but the Lord in His mercy and kindness has given us the grace to obey. And this grace is a grace to obey what ever He has asked us to do, and to find joy in this obedience. I cannot glorify this life, I cannot glorify living in a third world country sweating all day long, being eaten by mosquitos and learning to eat ants (or just be okay if they are on your bed and in your food), it isn’t easy. I don’t know if it will ever be comfortable, but I am content knowing I am completely in the will of the Lord at this moment.

Even Christ Himself learned obedience, "even though he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who OBEY Him" (Hebrews 5:8-9)

So may we in perfect submission to our heavenly Father, listen when the Lord calls, and obey Him as He leads us. May we in perfect submission to our Heavenly Father, become increasingly aware of His promises, and His love for us in sending His perfect son to become the source of eternal salvation to us as we OBEY Him.

A sojourning soul in the bosom of my Heavenly Father,

PS this was a message I wrote to my brother and I just read it again and realized that the night I wrote this I wanted to stay up and write on my blog but I was so tired I couldnt' keep writing. Anyway this is from my heart from the other evening:

This evening I'm thankful for the rain and the promise of the Lord bringing new mercies every morning. I can't even begin to describe what the Lord has been doing down here since I arrived however I will say truly nothing is impossible with Him. And in His presence, in His merciful unrelenting presence I lay on my cot surrounded by 4 walls and covered by a tin roof, and glory be to God for I am thankful beyond measure for this place to rest my head, my physical very fleeting body is not up to speed in any way shape or form with the Spirit within me. I suppose it is now reacting to the movement of the Lord within me, or possibly it is the multiple sick children whom I am around every moment of the day, either way I am praising Him brother, tomorrow is a new day!


Yemima (all smiles :)

Catinie on Sunday (all dressed up!)

some of the boys on Sunday (also all dressed up!)

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Such a Time as This

It seems off. Something seems wrong. It seems like you can’t possibly be hearing that from the Lord. It doesn’t make any sense. Why would you do that? He wouldn’t say that.

And it is true my sisters and brothers, it does seem off, it does seem wrong, it does seem I couldn’t possibly be hearing this from the Lord, it doesn’t make sense, and I honestly don’t know why I would do this. But the truth is

HE HAS SAID IT. And I am not doing it, He is doing it.

He has said, ‘my beloved I have called you to a land you do not know to a people you do not know, to share my Word with them and to love them as I have loved you.’

It seems off because it isn’t what the world around us tells us to do. They say, go to school, get a degree, prepare for a few months at least before going to serve, and only serve if you have every penny you need.

I wish somewhere sometime in my life somebody would have stopped me and said, “stop looking at yourself. Stop planning only the things you can do. Allow Him to do them. Allow Him to provide. Allow Him to speak. DO NOT FOR ONE MINUTE TAKE YOUR EYES OFF OF HIM, and He will give you joy that NEVER ENDS.”

It seems wrong because it seems I am disrespecting the money my parents have invested in me.

I wish I could help you to understand the extent to which I love my parents. But in comparison to the love I have for my Heavenly Father, it may look as if I am disrespecting, dishonoring, disobeying, and abandoning my family.

But He says, “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 10:36-39).

It seems like I couldn’t possibly be hearing this from the Lord. And so I checked, I prayed endlessly for the past month begging the Lord to speak to me about what He was saying specifically about me leaving everything and going to serve Him in Haiti.

And He led me to Revelation 2:3-5 which says, “I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen’ repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.”

This specific scripture was written to the church in Ephesus by the revelation of the Spirit, through John. And to me that evening as the Lord gave me a visual picture of Him taking my lampstand down from where He has placed it if I do not obey. I felt this sense of urgency in my heart to now exactly what the Lord was calling me to do and when, yet the Lord told me it was not time for me to know.

For most of Jan term at Samford I continued seeking His word and sought to follow Jesus with my whole heart to know whether He was leading me to Haiti. There was something however the Lord kept placing in my heart, “go to Haiti.” At first, I talked myself into believing He was just affirming my calling in August, but I knew that wasn’t right. I knew something was different, this sense of urgency would not leave my heart or mind.

When Jan term was finished it was a Thursday two weeks ago and I went to Ohenry’s to finally take a break from studying Arabic and completely be able to focus on His word. I sat down and asked the Lord to tell me a story, to share a story with me from His word which would help me understand what was going on. He asked me to turn to Esther. As I began reading the incredible story about Esther and how she was chosen, and how she was favored by the king, my heart grew more and more anxious. I continued reading, seeing not only was she favored in the sight of her beauty, but she wasn’t even supposed to be considered to become the queen. She was an orphan taken care of by her uncle Mordecai. “The young woman had a beautiful figure and was lovely to look at, and when her father and her mother died, Mordecai took her as his own daughter.” Esther was then taken into the King’s court and King Ahasuerus saw this beautiful woman and wanted to make her the queen. So she became queen. Then Mordecai discovered two of the king’s eunuch’s were seeking to lay hands on the king, so Mordecai told Esther to warn the king. Esther did warn the king in the name of Mordecai. Then Haman was promoted in the King’s house, and every body bowed down to pay homage to Haman except Mordecai. So Haman planned a plot to kill Mordecai. (abridged version of the story) So Mordecai knew of Haman’s plan so Mordecai went to Esther and said, “Do not think to yourself that in the king’s palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews. For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” (4:13-14). And as I read this word I wasn’t just reading it, the Lord was reading it to me. He was speaking it to me. Telling me, “my dear child, this is to you as it was to Esther, wake up and see that you have come into the Kingdom for such a time as THIS.” I realized at that moment the Lord was calling me to more then just going to Haiti in August. He was calling me to go now. I continued reading the story to see that Esther responded to Mordecai by saying, “go gather all the Jews to be found in Susa, and hold a fast on my behalf, and do not eat or drink for three days (night or day). I and my young women will also fast as you do. Then I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish I perish” (4:16-17).

There is something in my heart that leaps at the sound of Jesus’s voice. There is something in my heart which cannot compare to any other feeling in my life. It is this still small voice sweetly passing melodies over my heart, longing for me to hear Him, saying softly patiently, over and over again, My daughter, my daughter, MY DAUGHTER, Go now. This isn’t a question. This isn’t me saying, if you want to, then go. I have commanded you to take a step in obedience into a GREAT UNKNOWN and say I am willing to sacrifice anything for the Light of the Glory of God to reach the nations.

Its tender nature continues to make my heart beat. Its gentle meekness brings me to my knees weeping knowing the Lord has created an anthem in my heart, an anthem I shall sing for the rest of my life, “As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied with your likeness” (Psalm 17:15) “I love you o Lord my strength” (Psalm 18:1). “For it is you who light my lamp; the Lord my God lightens my darkness” (Psalm 18:28).

His word goes on and on and on, and daily continues to humble me and bring me to my knees. I could sit here and type all of the pieces of scripture He used to call me but there is only one more, which I feel the Lord is calling me to share.

I was at my wits end about making a decision when I was about to tell my dad to just pay my tuition because I was tired of trying to make a decision. But I came back up to my room and asked the Lord for one more piece of scripture to affirm in me all that He had told me. He said, “turn to John 4.”

As many of you know John 4 is the story about Jesus talking to the woman at the well, but when she leaves to go tell everybody who she has seen, the disciples return and tell Jesus, “Rabbi, eat.” He responds saying, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” The disciples then looked at one another and said, “Has anyone brought him something to eat?” Jesus responds saying, “my food is to do the will of Him who sent me and to accomplish his work. Do you not say, ‘there are yet four months, then comes the harvest?’ Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest. Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit FOR ETERNAL LIFE, so that sower and reaper may rejoice TOGETHER! For here the saying holds true, ‘one sows another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.”

It was unbelievable to me when I read this, in fact, so unbelievable I had to read through the whole story again! Everybody said to me, “why wouldn’t you finish school you only have four months left, Lauren, you are crazy why wouldn’t you just stay you have four months!” over and over and over again I heard the same thing, but no matter how many times I heard it, it was as if the world was barking at me, telling me to believe in its lies. But praise Him, He pursued me until I listened. He called to me as he called to Samuel time and time again, until as I pray I also have done, Samuel said, “speak for your servant hears” (1 Samuel 3:11). And then and only then could the Lord say to me, “LIFT UP YOUR EYES, AND SEE THAT THE FIELDS ARE WHITE FOR HARVEST!”

And not only that brothers and sisters, but continuing in the story of John 4, “many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “he told me all that I ever did.” And after the Samaritans speant time with Jesus many more believed because of His word. And then the hope of my heart as a disciple called to make disciples of all nations they told the woman, “IT IS NO LONGER BECAUSE OF WHAT YOU SAID THAT WE BELIEVE, FOR WE HAVE HEARD FOR OURSELVES, AND WE KNOW THAT THIS IS INDEED THE SAVIOR OF THE WORLD!” (V. 39`42).

Oh if I could just run to each of you right now and share this overwhelming joy that comes when you hear the Lord’s calling and step out in obedience into the great unknown. He has opened more opportunities for me to share the Gospel with people through Him calling me to Haiti, then I ever imagined would be opened. My Muslim sister who I had been laboring for months has now heard the complete Gospel, and desires to study the old testament with me. And this is just one part of the story of God’s faithfulness in “extreme (some say radical) devotion.” It is not a zealous calling. And it isn’t a calling you only hear if you have a certain amount of zeal for the  Lord. It is a calling of faith. It is stepping out in obedience following Jesus on to the sea when you know/think it doesn’t make sense.

It will never ever make sense to me. I don’t think I will ever understand the Lord’s will for my life perfectly, but I will promise you that He is faithful to those who love Him and seek to do His will.

So in about 6 hours I leave to begin a new life, a new journey. I shall by the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, take every single step no matter how big or small in complete assurance the Lord is directly in front of me bidding me come and die.

I long to be a doormat. I long to lay on the floor, to do the dirty jobs, the things nobody else wants to do. I long to go 3 months without being noticed by anybody, to serve Him out of only a love for Him not a desire to be seen by others. And so He has said to me, “my love, you may come away with me for a while. You may come into the shadows with me, but I cannot promise you it won’t be hard. I will not promise you that every day will be a ‘Sunday.’ Or that you will want to be unseen. But I will promise you, every single step you take I will be with you, leading and guiding you taking you to the edge of the world and still asking you to take a step in faith no matter what the cost is.

So call me a lover of Jesus because that’s all I am. I am simply taking a step into the VERY unknown, forgetting the world, watching, and waiting eagerly for His return, but making disciples every step of the way.

I love you guys so very much and I am so thankful I have sisters and brothers willing to labor in the work of the Gospel here in the states. I will pray for you guys as you are praying for the Haitians.HHaiti in August

This is my song to You
A melody of thanks for You
An expression of wonder
At Your beauty and Your splendor

No other cry have I
Than to know You more and lift You high
Oh, God of infinite glory
Above all You are worthy

What can I bring to You
Simply a song of love
And boundless, gratitude
My whole life, for You

You've rescued me from death
Given me Your kingdom
And blessed me with Your love
Countless mercies from above

This is my song to You
A melody of thanks for You
An expression of wonder
At Your beauty and Your splendor

No other cry have I
Than to know You more and lift You high
Oh, God of infinite glory
Above all You are worthy

What can I bring to You
Simply a song of love
And boundless, gratitude
My whole life, for You

You've rescued me from death
Given me Your kingdom
And blessed me with Your love
Countless mercies from above

Had I riches, I would bring them
Had I kingdoms, I would lose them
Had I the world, too small a gift
Would it be for You (2x)

What can I bring to You
Simply a song of love
And boundless, gratitude
My whole life, for You

Monday, February 6, 2012

A Sojourning Soul

About the New Name “A Sojourning Soul”

I do want to share all the Lord has been working in my heart in the past month but I do not feel inspired to yet reveal the intent of my heart in moving to Haiti, rather the intent of my Father’s heart in commanding me to go to Haiti. I will however write now about the Lord inspiring me to change the name of my blog and to not  be on facebook for who knows how long.

First we must see the definition of Sojourn:
[n. soh-jurn; v. soh-jurn, soh-jurn]
sojourn  (ˈsɒdʒɜːn, ˈsʌdʒ-)

a temporary stay

( intr ) to stay or reside temporarily

[C13: from Old French sojorner,  from Vulgar Latin subdiurnāre  (unattested) to spend a day, from Latin sub-  during + Late Latin diurnum  day]

I knew the word sojourn but I did not know why the Lord had been placing this word on my heart for the past couple of years. Then I was reading a few days ago asking the Lord to lead me to scripture to understand better what this means that He has called me a sojourner. He led me to read Psalm 39:12 which says, “Hear my prayer, O Lord, and give ear to my cry; hold not your peace at my tears! For I am a sojourner with you, a guest, like all my fathers.”

It’s beautiful I tell you! The Lord spoke clearly to me and said, “my daughter this earth is temporary, and when you are living in Heaven with me every day of your life here on earth you are a sojourner. You are in temporary residence here and every where you go. Do not fear that you will not be able to “finish” relationships you have formed all over the world, but realize I have called you to different places at different parts of your life. I want you first to realize this is not for your glory or so that you may have the opportunity to travel and see the world, this is for my glory so that you may always look to me and say, “holy, holy, holy, are you Lord God Almighty, the whole earth is full of your glory. I will take you to the end of the world because I long for my Name to reach the ends of the world, but do not ever believe you are a better person because I have called you to these different places. You are not righteous  by your deeds you are made righteous by the blood of Jesus Christ alone."