Sunday, December 23, 2012

Merry Christmas!!!

"Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it."  ~Helen Keller

Hope.  A tiny baby.  Born not in a palace to a king, but to an unmarried, peasant girl in a dirty, smelly stable.  Announced to the lowest of the low----shepherds.  By angels!  

Illogical at best.

"But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong."   I Cor. 1:27

To show HIS power.  And that He cares about the least of these.  He's in the small stuff.

"...and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn." Luke 2:7

Emmanuel.  God WITH us.  GOD with us.  God with US.  

Evil will be destroyed.  Suffering will cease.  Wrongs will be made right.  And crying will end.  

Because of one wee babe.  The HOPE of Christmas!

Monday, December 10, 2012

When winter has passed....

It's Spring in New Zealand.  The winter has passed and new life is popping up all around.  There have been lots of rainy, gloomy days but brilliant, sunny ones as well.  Like the morning currently shining through my window.

Even the wilderness and desert will be glad in those days.
The wasteland will rejoice and blossom with spring crocuses.
Yes, there will be an abundance of flowers and of singing and joy!
The deserts will become as green as the mountains of Lebanon, 
as lovely as Mount Carmel of the plain of Sharon.
There the Lord will display his glory, 
the splendor of our G0d.
With this news, strengthen those who have tired hands,
and encourage those who have weak knees.
Say to those with fearful hearts,
"Be strong, and do not fear, 
for your G0d is coming to destroy your enemies.
He is coming to save you."
And when he comes, he will open the eyes of the blind 
and unplug the ears of the deaf.
The lame will leap like a deer, 
and those who cannot speak will sing for joy!
Springs will gush forth in the wilderness, 
and streams in the wasteland.
The parched ground will become a pool,
and springs of water will satisfy the thirsty land.
Marsh grass and reeds and rushes will flourish 
where desert jackals once lived.     
And a great road will go through that once deserted land.
It will be named the Highway of Holiness.
-Is. 35:1-8

I LOVE the mental picture that brings!  Beauty out of barren land.  Healing out of a wasteland.  HOPE.....

Last night I heard Casting Crown's new rendition of one of their much loved songs.  And it reminded me that this..........

.......doesn't happen without the rain.  And the storm.  

Just like in the garden of my (and your!) soul.

Days like today make me smile. But they're all the more brilliant because of the winter and the barren days that have passed.  Yet today the birds are singing!!!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Responsibility and Hope

Steve's still where we usually live and has been really enjoying the time.  He's hosted a couple of great teams as well.  The current one from one of our supporting fellowships in the US sent skilled tradesmen who have been giving large portions of FS a face lift with a coat of paint.  Because they can work extra quickly they're painting walls in high traffic areas that have never been painted before.

Five new women have recently started training as well!

I heard a wonderful story the other day about how a large retail store in the city donated very slightly damaged but new cots/cribs to the nursery/creche.  That's really a first since the general feeling in the city is to avoid contact with people in our area.  The store wanted photos to show their employees so one of the women who has in the past few years taken a position of leadership in the office took the photos to the most flash mall in town so they could see.  This is a place that it's surreal to walk into because of the contrast between what's inside and what's in the city around it.  It made me smile to hear how excited this woman was when she came back at how welcoming the staff was and how pleased they were to see the photos.  This is a women who before she started work at FS wouldn't have been welcome to even walk through the doors of the mall........

Change!!!  And now she can hold her head up high.

On the flip side Steve says there are more women 'standing in line' on the main road nearby than he's ever seen before.

I've been thinking lately about how in ways life at FS has 'ruined' us----because now there's a lot that we know.  I worked before Hannah was born at a jewelry store for a number of years and to this day still notice jewelry without meaning to.  After time at FS I notice women that I wouldn't have before.  I know who is looking for a 'customer' on the streets even though she's not scantily dressed and there's not a brothel nearby.

That translates to the streets of New Zealand where I am at the moment.  I find myself googling the awareness of trafficking here and asking questions about the welfare of women.

William Wilberforce, who was instrumental in abolishing slavery in England said:

“You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know.” 

Now I know.  And with that comes responsibility.

That's pretty daunting at times......

I don't like seeing more darkness than I used to be aware of.  There's a lot of shadow in this world.  And I don't like wrestling with those 'why' questions that arise.

That's why I love verses like this:

"On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations; he will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign L0RD will wipe away the tears from all faces...."    Is. 25:7-8

It's not forever.

We all sing things like, "Break my heart for what breaks yours.  Everything I am for your Kingdom's cause."  And we mean it.  But that doesn't mean that it's easy to always walk it out.

I love being part of FS because while there's darkness all around it's a place of hope as well!

(Someone else's blog I read today that meant a lot to me:  Why I will not say I never made a sacrifice )