Monday, August 25, 2014

Your First Rollercoaster

I remember my oldest's first roller coaster experience. We were at Disney World and she was 4. As we stood in line for Goofy's Barnstormer kiddie coaster, she became fearful. The closer we got, the bigger the drops and loops appeared. By the time it was our turn, she was in full-fledged panic, her arms wrapped tightly around us. We finally took a step to the side and said, "If you will stop fighting this and just get on that ride, I promise you will have the time of your life". 

Looking into our eyes, she let go. As the roller coaster climbed that first drop, she was still apprehensive. She thought she wanted off the ride. But then something happened. As we sailed down and into a loop, she stopped gripping the handrail and put her arms into the air. "Wheeee!" She was having a blast. As soon as the ride ended, she was begging to go again and again and again. In the end, we had to tear her away from Goofy's Barnstormer!

Two years later, my husband's job was telling us to move an hour and 45 minutes from the town we had always lived. We had a 9-month-old, a 2-year-old and a 6-year-old. My grandma had just been diagnosed with Alzheimer's. It didn't make sense to move away from family support, family babysitters and a grandma who needed me to be there for visits. You would have thought I was a 4 year old. I cried, I yelled, I threatened, I bargained with God for days. I listed often all the reasons God was messing up by allowing the move to happen. One night, God spoke quietly to my heart. He said, "Lisa, you are just like your daughter and that kiddie coaster. You are wrapping your arms and legs around your present and refusing to move forward to go on the ride. But if you will trust Me, I promise, it will be the best ride of your life." And with that, I looked into His eyes and I let go. 

And He was so right. Four years later and we LOVE where we are: a better house, a great church, wonderful friends and support. We have grown as a couple and as a family. The job is better and the income is great. Why was I fighting so hard to avoid this?? It's easy now to see why He had us move. But I couldn't see it at the time. It felt like blind trust back then. 

So, people have asked me how we are going to make this Guatemala curriculum work. It doesn't make sense. Are we going to live there? Is my husband quitting his great job? How are we going to raise the $500,000 we need? How can we even consider leaving our comfortable home? What about the girls? And on and on. Believe me, I have had those same questions. But when I start to freak out and my arms and legs want to wrap around my present, I remember my last ride with God. And I look into His eyes again. 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Warriors and Battlefield Scars

What does a warrior look like? Is it someone who is perfect? Someone who finds life easy, always doing the right thing, always having the right answer? Is it the toughest of the tough? Never been wounded because they're too strong for that?
I think that deep in everyone's heart is the desire to be a warrior. To have a life of adventure. To make a difference in the world. 

Now, I'm not going to define what your adventure or you making a difference looks like because there is such a wide range for that. But I do want to talk about a couple of characteristics of warriors.

Scars. We all have them. Life knocks us around and no one escapes without some kind of battle scar. The good news is, scars mean a wound has healed. They are proof that we didn't die, we weren't defeated or completely crushed beyond repair. So, what do we do with those scars? Do we pick at them for the rest of our lives? Reliving over and over the pain that we experienced and the injustice of it all? Do we hide them in shame? Do we lie about them? Do we give up and sink into depression because of the way they got there?
Jesus has scars. Let that sink in. He wears the deepest scars of any human being. So how does he handle his scars? He shows them to a hurting and broken world.  He uses them to build our faith. He uses them to testify to God's power to overcome anything and everything. And warriors do the same. We boldly and unashamedly show our scars to a hurting and broken world. And we use them to build up others' faith. We testify to God's power to bring anyone through the battle, a victorious champion. Stronger than before we went in. We overcome the enemy by the word of our testimony (our scars) and the word of Jesus's testimony (the blood of the lamb).

That's it. The big one. Warriors love like no one else. They love while everyone hates. The kind of love that is excruciating. If someone hits them on the cheek, they offer the other cheek. They love when there is nothing given in return. They love the unlovable. If someone asks them to go one mile, they go two. If someone asks for their coat, they give them their clothes as well. It takes a strong warrior to love like that. Jesus said that anyone can love the easy way. But we are called to a deeper kind of God love. The kind of love that makes no sense and changes the world. The kind of love that looks like the picture above. And the kind that looks like this.

"I want you to do the death crawl."
"What you want me to go to the thirty yard line?"
"I think you to go to the fifty."
"I can do it if no one's on my back."
"I think you can do it with Jeremy on your back. But I want your best."
"Alright." he shrugs.

"Ok." "You’re going to give me your best?" 
"Your best." the coach says more firmly
"I’m going to give you my best." he finally says with true conviction.
"Okay, but I want you to do it blindfolded."

"Because I don’t want you giving up when you can go farther." 

The boy starts out at the one yard line. The coach is standing above him, talking confidently. 

Facing The Giants
Brock on the one yard line with Jeremy on his back
"Show me good effort." 
"A little bit left."
"That a way Brock."
"There you go."
"It’s a good start." 
"A little bit left." 

Brock stops and takes a rest.

"Don't give up on me Brock."
"I'm not coach. I'm just resting."

Brock starts back up.
The coaches encouragement grows louder.
"Your very best."
"Don't quit on me."
"There you go."
"Don't quit until you've got nothing left."
"That's it."
"That's it."

Brock's pace slows.

"It hurts. It hurts. He’s heavy. I’m almost out of strength."
The coach drops to his knees and begins to crawl next to him. Now he is screaming his encouragement in his ear and crawling along beside him. 

coaching giving encouragment
Dont you quit on me Brock

"It burns!" Brock says his struggle growing.
Coach screams louder. "Let it burn!"

"It’s all heart!"
"My arms are burning!" He's slowing more now.
"You promised me your best!""Your best!"
"It’s too hard!"
"It’s not too hard!"

"You give me your best!"
"Don’t quit! No!"
"Keep Going!"
"Don’t Quit!"
"Don’t Quit!"

"Give me more!"
"Give me your best!"
"Don’t Quit!"
"Don’t Quit!"
"Brock Kelly you don’t quit on me!"

"You keep Going!"
"Ten more steps!"

"Ten More!"
"Ten More!"
"I can’t do it!"
"You can! Just five more!"

"Five More!"
"Don’t Quit!"

"Two More!"
"One More!"

Brock collapses to the ground. The coach falls to the ground in front of him.
"I can’t make it to the sixty. I don’t have anymore." Brock whispers his face buried into the turf. The coach removes his blindfold.

"Look up Brock. You're in the end zone."
"Brock you are the most influential man on this team. If you walk around defeated so will they. You just carried a hundred and forty pound man across the field. And you have been gifted with the ability of leadership. Don’t waste it." 

At the end of my life, let it be said of me, "She held nothing back, she left nothing on the table, she loved extravagantly.".

Monday, August 11, 2014

God Makes Us a Huge Answer to Prayer

So, as I mentioned before, we were living out a normal life. A stay at home mom homeschooling her kids. An oil and gas salesman, working long hours. How could we make a dent in the sad reality of Guatemalan people? And as we prayed those prayers, God began to form us into an answer.

Our pastor here in the states gave us a friend of a friend contact in Guatemala. A pastor of a 12,000 member church in Guatemala City. His daughter agreed to meet with us for coffee in Antigua. We had no idea why we were meeting with her and she even asked us why we were meeting. We could only answer that we were taking baby steps toward anything God put in our path. As we talked, our jaws simultaneously dropped. She (a Guatemalan) had attended college in our home town. She had even tried our church out twice! Now, only God can orchestrate that. Her dad had run for president of Guatemala in the previous elections and had lost. Her family felt like God was leading them to make a big change in their nation. Suddenly a lightbulb went off.

The children. That's how you change a nation. You start teaching the children. You teach them how to take limits off of their thinking. You show them how to take good care of their bodies, their families and their cities. You show them where their choices lead. Either to a good life, or a life of pitfalls. You teach them to reach harder for an education and a stable job, so they can have a stable family.
And so, we partnered with an organization who has a school curriculum that covers all of those things.
And just like that, God tipped the domino that made things start moving quickly.

We went back to that family in Guatemala and presented the idea for the curriculum to change their nation. They were as excited as we were! And, in another God-move, it just so happened that a cousin of theirs is the head of education for the entire country. 

And so, the dominos are still rolling right along and we... well.... we are trying to roll along with them. It's a huge undertaking. We know nothing about politics. We aren't polished. We are just a simple family, walking out our obedience to the God who gives us all good things. And our God has been so faithful. I feel like our jaws drop about every other day in response to God placing every puzzle piece right where it needs to be.

The government has given us 4 schools with about 3,200 students for the upcoming school year. We will begin our pilot program in January which is our proving ground for the government. And we hope it will take off from there!

Monday, August 4, 2014

God, You're Asking Us To Do What??

We are a pretty normal family. I mean, if normal means we can still be kind of weird and like it that way. But, we are like anyone else. We like to take fancy family pictures. Just a side note: Do not attempt three outfit changes for your family for outside pictures. Bicyclers and runners WILL come by at inopportune moments......

We like to have fun.

We love vacations and our creature comforts. It's nice to jump in our cars and go wherever we want, Target being my main destination. 

But then, in the midst of normal life, God began pulling us here:

This is Guatemala City dump. Over 1,000 people live right around this enormous trash pile. They work there every day and they raise their families in the middle of the smell and sight of a whole city's trash. Their kids grow up believing that this is all they will ever be and the cycle continues. Very few ever get out.

What started for our family as a one time, 8 day mission trip became a passion. As our pastor says, "Once you see it, you own it.". In other words, you can't turn your back on it ever again. A small flame erupts inside your heart and every time you go back, it gets bigger and more intense. God did not create these people so that they could live their lives in a trash heap.

Did I mention that medical waste is also dumped there? That those precious Guatemalan people are walking and digging in the middle of used needles and bandages with every kind of disease on them? Oh, and lest I forget, the national cemetery sits on a hill right above. (where we took this picture) The cemetery has graves for rent. Yes, for rent. And when families stop paying the rent, they dump the bodies over into that same trash heap. Hundreds of buzzards fly around and land on the trash. It is a scene straight out of a horror movie.

I could go on and on. The situation is so overwhelming. How in the world can a salesman, a stay at home mom and three small kids make a dent there???
This was the prayer we prayed. Let me just tell you that God LOVES those prayers. I fully picture Him on the edge of his throne cushion, (At least I imagine He has a nice, fluffy cushion to sit on.) just waiting for someone to ask Him what they can do. The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Matt 9:37

And so began our journey........ 
Next up, God makes us a huge answer to prayer.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Time for Change

So, I've been away from my blog for a while. Busyness took over. I started homeschooling our three girls. Homeschooling three girls looks a lot like my daughter's hair in the picture above. It's totally crazy. It's fun and rewarding, but it's also flat out crazy. I have been at my pinnacle when my girls compared a painting they saw to a Seurat painting and I hoped everyone around us heard. And I've been at my lowest when my oldest made me a picture of the American flag. Which she made into a triangle. Which she spelled Mrica. Which I hid in my purse so no one would judge.

But I've missed getting to share from my heart. I've missed purposefully finding those little jewel moments of my day so I could share them here. And so I'm back. I'm not sure how often, but I'm back. And I can't wait to share the HUGE changes that God has made in our lives over this last year. Huge! As in, so big that we are out of our league, out of our comfort zones, in over our heads.
But, that will have to wait until the next post........ : )