Posts filed under ‘Faith’

More than just beautiful faces…but beautiful faces nonetheless.

1109ES-  394
This is Blanca. We visited her home this afternoon. She just seemed to show up at my side multiple times during the day.

Christina
Christina. Another one who kept finding her way to my side throughout the day. She noticed my lipstick and wanted some.

Boys 1

Girl 1

Isabel
Isabel. That meek smile accompanied me throughout much of the day.

Girl 3

Joslynn Tamara
Joslynn Tamara. This is her in her home. She’s been attending the project for a couple years now. Through her attending the project, her entire immediate and extended family are now walking with God, free from addiction and living in the light of his Presence. Her mother is now walking with Jesus and tutoring at the project. Her mother wept as we prayed for them before they left, that they would continue to walk with Jesus and remain faithful to his work in their lives.

Oscar the poet
This is Oscar. He came up to me and told me he wanted to recite a poem for me. And then… he did another one. I asked him, “Do you like to rhyme?” He enthusiastically nodded. I asked him to say a Bible verse for me and he couldn’t remember one on the spot. So I told him, “When you remember one, come find me, okay?” A couple hours later, he made good on it. He found me in the director’s office and recited Jeremiah 33:3 “Call to me and I will answer you…” He became a special buddy of mine today. And who could resist that smile?

maricella
Maricella. Mother of Blanca (picture #1). This is her in her home. She welcomed us there, even though she was nervous. Jesus came and met us there, though. She told us of her history of gang membership and the tattoo on her forehead because of it. And she now can’t find work because she won’t be trusted. Even though in Christ, she is a new creation…. My heart broke for her.

My first day of interacting with people on the receiving end of Compassion has been nothing short of amazing—their stories, their homes, their openness to our presence, their excitement for Compassion and the effects it’s had on their families. My heart is somehow broken and full at the same time. Sorrowful, yet always rejoicing.

November 10, 2009 at 11:03 pm 18 comments

“This child deserves to know Jesus!” -Brother Guillermo

We all made it safely to El Salvador today (with all of our luggage)! Thanks to all of you who prayed for us and thought about us throughout the day.

First thing’s first: flooding. I mentioned that Hurricane Ida had passed through and substantial flooding had killed around 100 people. Many people have lost their homes, and some of the Compassion projects have incurred damage. Some of the Compassion-sponsored children have lost homes or been evacuated from their homes because they’re in areas at high risk for further landslides.

Thankfully none of the projects that we’re scheduled to visit were damaged. That makes things a lot easier, itinerary-wise, for our trip leaders (as you can imagine).

Today was a full day of travel and then meeting up with our tour guides. We drove through downtown San Salvador, had a wonderful lunch, and then went to the Compassion National Headquarters.

Compassion El Salvador office

They’ve been in this new building for about a year, having moved from a bunker with no windows for offices. It was a beautifully-maintained, well-run, organized office! What a blessing to this hardworking staff! I seriously have never seen an office of people so happy. We met every staff member and they just basically kept one-upping each other on the happiness scale.

We had a presentation by Brother Guillermo, the country director for Compassion El Salvador. And wow, what an awesome, Godly man!

Brother Guillermo

One thing that you should know about Compassion in El Salvador is that they have just added a new program, the Child Survival Program, this year. As Brother Guillermo was sharing about that and showing a couple stats and pictures, he said something that stopped my heart. He was showing a picture of a baby girl, probably about 3 months old, and he said in such a sincere, passionate voice:

“This child deserves to know Jesus!”

The tears filled my eyes as he said it again:

“This child deserves to know Jesus!”

And of course we, as sinners, have no rights to God. But that he loves us so much despite our sin that he still gives us access to Him is staggering. That we can share in his love, his grace, his joy, his peace, his wonderful plan of salvation… it’s amazing to me again today.

I’ve seen and heard so much already about Compassion’s model for their programs worldwide. They focus on the development of 4 key areas: physical, cognitive, socio-emotional, and spiritual. They are deeply invested in meeting these needs for their children. They have project managers that are continually evaluating each project to make sure they’re addressing all of these areas and they operate a training department to help the churches and projects in their weaknesses to achieve their goals. It’s so cool!

I just want to encourage you today to think and pray about sponsoring a child from El Salvador. They deserve to know Jesus.

November 9, 2009 at 10:54 pm 22 comments

Hurricane in El Salvador: Please pray!

Just got a link from our trip leader, Shaun Groves, sharing the news that there was a hurricane in El Salvador last night, and that 91 people are believed to be dead.

Read the story here.

Of course we have no idea at this point how this will affect our trip. Almost certainly, children and families sponsored by Compassion have lost the little they had in the last 24 hours.

So pray for us. Pray that we can love people well in the midst of their disaster, if that’s what we come up against. Pray that we will trust God in ways that are beautiful and attractive to the people that we encounter, even as we proclaim that we trust in the God who controls the winds and waves.

November 8, 2009 at 8:02 pm 9 comments

A Follow-Up on My Last Post: Infant Mortality Video

I watched this video this morning over at the Compassion blog. It seemed fitting, especially since I just posted about the Child Survival Program.

I couldn’t help but tear up, allowing the gravity of the topic to land on me for a few minutes. The reality that 9 million children a year die before their 5th birthday—my son turns five in a few weeks, Lord willing.

For me, having lost a child to something I couldn’t control, it hits even harder. I mean, I can do something about diarrhea. I can help people learn how to sanitize bottles and breast feed their babies.

You don’t have to feel the same way, but this is a very exciting ministry to me.

October 29, 2009 at 4:09 pm 10 comments

We light a candle…

Last night we lit candles. On the eve of our daughter Felicity’s 2-year homegoing anniversary, our dear friend Barbie read us a beautiful piece she had written. She adapted it from something written for her on the 2-year anniversary of her son’s death back in August.

We lit candles for love, joy, memories, tears, hope, peace, and strength.

I wasn’t expecting this at all, but the stanza about joy was the one that touched me the deepest. I don’t feel like I connect with the word joy very much in my grief. So I was surprised by joy, even as the tears ran down my face.

Here’s what she wrote:

We light a candle for JOY:

For the joy of a wedding;
For the joy of Orison’s birth;
For the joy of Morrow’s sweet life;
For the joy of Felicity’s name;
For the joy in hearts that waited for her;
For her joy in the presence of our God;
For the joy, for the Felicity of our risen Lord.

Happy birthday, Felicity Margaret.

September 22, 2009 at 10:32 am 48 comments

Today is a Re-living Day: 9/11, Eight Years Later

Every day is a re-living day for someone.

Today is a re-living day for so many, remembering the day their lives were changed forever, knowing they would never hear the voice or touch the warm flesh of their husband, wife, mother, father, sister, brother again.

I know that many of us relate to the anniversary of 9/11 by remembering where we were or what we were doing when the news hit us. That is, of course, a normal way to relate to that traumatic news. We do our own re-living of this day when do that.

That was my first reaction this morning when I saw many people Tweeting what they were doing eight years ago when they heard that news.

But soon after that, God brought someone else to my mind—someone I don’t know, the collective “someone” who lost their beloved husband or wife, their treasured son or daughter. This is the someone God brought to my mind today.

We all remember the scenes of chaos we watched via the major news broadcasts. But I want to try to remember that there were people actually experiencing that swirling, smoking, screaming chaos. There were desperate people racing to Ground Zero to try to locate any news about their precious loved one. People dialing again and again into the jammed phone lines, searching for the voice they would never hear again on this earth.

This morning I heard a devotion on Psalm 56:8

You have kept count of my tossings;
put my tears in your bottle.
Are they not in your book?

This is the segment that struck me the most:
The [Hebrew] word for bottle (no’d) does not refer to some small capped jar, but rather to a skin-bottle used for large quantities of liquid. It’s as if David, after affirming God’s awareness of his sorrows, cries out in hope: “Collect all of my many tears in your canteen!”

So for all the families and friends who have cried so many tears of longing and devastation these past eight years, God has a big enough canteen for all of them. They’re all there and known…collected.

I want to be with you in my heart today, marking your re-living day. Some of the tears in God’s canteen marked “Molly Piper” are there on your behalf today.

Read the whole Psalm 56:8 devotion.

September 11, 2009 at 12:45 pm 13 comments

A Chance to Trust: Traveling to El Salvador in November with Compassion International

So there was a little buzz around the Twittersphere this morning when it was announced that I’m joining Compassion International‘s next blogger trip to El Salvador in November.

Most of this so-called buzz was from my good friends, who sent me messages saying things to the effect of, “What???”

So to save myself the effort of having to write back to each of you—Yeah, so… Lord willing, I’m going to El Salvador in November.

el salvador

Okay, the story goes…

A few weeks ago I was contacted by Shaun Groves, who is the Blogger Relationship Manager of Compassion’s blogger trips, asking if I’d be interested in joining this trip to El Salvador in November. I’d followed a couple of their trips through other blogger friends, and been fascinated by the stories I’ve read.

I also thought it was really cool and innovative on Compassion’s part to use bloggers and their influence in this way.

Anyway, back to the story (by the way, this is what it’s like to have a real conversation with me—rabbit trails, rabbit trails)… so that night I mentioned the email to Abraham and our good friend Wes, and they were both really encouraging about my going. I was really nervous, mostly feeling like I don’t have a good enough blog to do something like this. But they persisted, and the thoughts of the trip persisted in my head and heart.

I’ve always felt really intimidated to start traveling down the road of greater global poverty awareness, social justice issues, etc.—mostly because I felt insecure. I’ll be honest about my insecurities and failings. Ready?

  • There’s too much information. I wouldn’t know where to start.
  • There’s always people who know more than me and I’m gonna look like an idiot if I try to join this effort.
  • I don’t have time.
  • I have way too much of my own pain right now.
  • I’m forgetful when I have food and clean water and money for groceries.
  • I might actually have to change if I know more.
  • What if I’m a flash-in-the-pan kind of person? What if I get all gung-ho and then lose steam? (Again, pride telling me I’ll look like an idiot, and me listening to that, instead of to God’s voice.)

But back in the fall, right after Felicity’s first birthday, I was treated by my dear friend Jenna (lovingly known for her quirky online alterego, jennapants) to a concert by Sara Groves, Derek Webb, Sandra McCracken, and others to highlight some ministries doing work with poverty, slavery, and childhood prostitution. I was shaken by it. I remember coming home and asking Abraham random things like, “Do you want to become an abolitionist with me?”

I remember wanting so deeply to get outside of myself for a little while and remember the plight of those around the world who have it so much worse than me.

But it’s been hard. To be honest, year #2 without Felicity has felt so much harder on many levels. A good friend of mine (whose 24-year-old son died a few weeks before Felicity) told me recently, “Year One is the year of shock. Year Two is the year of feeling.” How true that’s been for me.

But in all of that pain, I’ve still felt a tugging and longing to be part of this global effort outside of myself to see change in God’s big world.

I know things like poverty, prostitution, and slavery matter to God. Jesus told us that a cup of cold water matters to him.

So I’m trusting God that none of these experiences and longings have been accidental, that he is indeed doing something in my heart to bring greater measures of healing, bring me to a place of deeper dependence on him, show himself to me in new ways… I’m eager.

I’m trusting him that these non-accidents are going to set a tone for Year #3, the theme of which is yet to be experienced.

I really hope you’ll stay tuned through November and pray me through the trip to El Salvador. I’m really excited to share with you all what God is doing in that little country in His great big world.

August 25, 2009 at 11:24 pm 51 comments

Do you want to die this Mother’s Day?

For most of you who read this blog, Mother’s Day is a happy day, full of celebration and laughter as you behold the faces of your children—all your children.

For some of you who read here, Mother’s Day is part-celebration and part-torture. There’s sweetness in the faces of the husband and children who are here. But just about a millimeter away from those joys, a deep and bitter pain resides.

For some of you, there seems to be only torture and (what feels like) everlasting pain. Maybe you’ve miscarried all your children. Or maybe your only child is dead. Or maybe you long for children like nothing else on this earth and you still don’t have any. You probably feel like you’re not a mother. You probably feel like half a woman.

I’m in the second category. For me it’s because one of my children is missing. I have two precious boys, but my only daughter is missing. My little girl is missing.

I suppose “missing” implies that I don’t know where she is. But I do know where she is, I just can’t get to her.

Unless I died this Mother’s Day.

There have been many times when the pain has felt so intense that I was sure that it was going to kill me. And most of those times I thought I would’ve been happier if it had.

But I’m still here. And she’s still there.

So what’s a grieving woman to do on Mother’s Day?

  • Does she just end it now?
  • Does she hole up with her pain and steel herself against love?
  • Does she receive comfort from the Lord as she laments before him?

I want to live in #3. I want you to live in #3. I don’t want to miss one thing that he has for me through this pain.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a really hard, long road. I have no idea how many twists and turns and bumps there will be. But I see him transforming me along this road of suffering. I know I haven’t been perfect in the transformation—I still fight anger, bitterness, hatred, fear, and jealousy all the time. I still rail against his plan for me.

Paul said this in Philippians 1:

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two.

Was Paul suicidal? No. He was giving words to the paradox that we live in as Christians. It would be “far better” to be with Jesus today. It would mean the end of the pain, the end of the tears, the end of the loneliness. It would mean beholding my precious baby girl.

But what did Paul conclude? He knew his presence in the flesh was necessary. He knew that God had plans for his life on earth. If God were finished with him, he would depart.

For probably all of us, today is not the day that God will fulfill all of his work in our lives and take us to be with him. As much as we might long for it, it’s probably not happening today.

What convincing do you need that your presence here is necessary?

  • Will a living baby do it?
  • Will a daughter (or son) do it?
  • Will the love of family and friends do it?

I think those things can certainly help, but even those amazing realities will never be what you and I truly need.

In the deepest part of me, I need Christ. I need his presence in my pain with me. I need his strength to carry my burden. I need his forgiveness for my constant distrust of his plan for my life. I need his peace to rest in, all the days I will live on earth, separated from my daughter.

I guess I want to encourage all of the mourners today to press into the pain with Jesus. Just go ahead and let it flow. Not only can he handle it, he’s the only one who can truly handle it and even heal it.

So as I live through another Mother’s Day without my Felicity, I’m going to laugh at the funny parts, cry at the sad parts, and let my love for her flow through all of it. That’s where I have to live this Mother’s Day.

May 9, 2009 at 5:23 pm 137 comments

Thanks God, for watching over a klutz like me.

Anyone who knows me well can tell you that I’m a klutz. I’m not well-known for my nimbleness in comportment. That doesn’t mean I’m not coordinated, though. I’m kind of a mixed bag.

It’s not uncommon (as in every other day or so) for me to spill something really annoying—sugar, a huge pitcher of water or juice, etc. But at the same time I’m pretty coordinated for sports. Weird, huh?

Perfect example of my predicament: I find myself regularly thanking God out loud while I’m preparing supper as he protects me from myself. Probably once a week I slice into one of my fingers, only to be stopped short at the last millisecond by those ever-helpful fingernails he gave me. “Thank you Jesus for fingernails!”

Yesterday I was able to marvel anew over one of the other body parts I take for granted all the time. I was walking out of a building, not paying attention (of course), and all of a sudden there was a major jolt in my gait. I had unknowingly negotiated a step.

BAM! I felt my spine absorb the shock. I swear I felt that reserve adrenaline in my body come up to the front lines.

And instead of collapsing into a crippled pile of bones and muscles, I just kept walking! As I walked the next few steps I thanked God for the intricacy of my spine—all those vertabrae and muscles and disks working together to cushion my klutziness. And the reflexes… even the klutziest among us has them! Incredible.

I don’t know about you, but instances like that remind me of how near God is to me all the time. Even when I’m not thinking about him, walking along cluelessly, he’s gracious to walk beside me and intervene for me—a protector, a guardian.

And more than that, all the time I’m not thinking about it, Jesus is making intercession for me with his Father, pleading that the wicked and clueless and rebellious be reconciled to God through the blood he shed on the cross. All the time saying, “Yeah, I know she doesn’t deserve it. But I love her—klutziness, cluelessness, rebelliousness, and all.”

February 3, 2009 at 9:48 am 14 comments

Countdown to Spring, Minnesota-style

It’s the end of January.

About this time of year in Minnesota people start counting down to spring. Here’s how it goes:

Well it’s already the end of January. And February’s a short month. And then it’s March! March comes “in like a lion, out like a lamb”, right? And then it’ll be spring!

I do this too. But what we all tend to forget in our longing for spring is that this whole promise of better March days is kind of a crapshoot in Minnesota.

We forget all too easily that it snowed in May last year. MAY!!! I remember it particularly because my birthday’s in May. And even in all my Pennsylvania winters growing up, it never snowed in my birth month.

Perhaps it’s good that our memories fail us this time of year. Perhaps the cold freezes our hippocampuses or something. If we kept a record of wrongs against the weather here, we’d have all hit the road long ago.

Perhaps we’re gluttons for punishment. Perhaps we have martyr complexes.

But perhaps there’s just something so comforting about the warmth of a necessary hot beverage. Or cozy about the fleece jammies we clothe our children in at night. Or awe-inspiring as we catch snow on our tongues, remembering the purchase-price that made all our evil deeds just like those floating flakes.

Don’t get me wrong—I’m excited for spring. But I want to revel more in those moments that make what’s left of winter magical. They, like everything else, will be gone too soon.

January 23, 2009 at 11:58 am 30 comments

Extended Scripture Memory for Kids (and parents)

During the month of December, we decided to read Luke, Chapter 2 every night before bed with Orison. We would do our Advent Calendar reading for the night, then Orison would settle into his bed for Daddy to read the account of Jesus’s birth.

He got excited about the repetition and predictability of it. “Are we going to read Luke 2 tonight?!?!”

The effect of reading one section of Scripture every night for a month was surprising. Nothing we anticipated, really. But on December 23rd, Abraham got him started and did an experiment to see how many words he knew in the story.

Basically, he just kept going. And going.

He had the whole thing almost word-perfect from verses 1-21. We were STUNNED!

So our new plan for family devotions for 2009 is to introduce Orison to important people/accounts in the Bible, reading a section repeatedly for a certain amount of time. We might not do a whole month with all of them, but the repetition has proven really good for his little memory.

And it’s had its effect on us, as well. I know a lot more of Luke 2 than I ever have before. So not only do your kids get concepts and stories from the Bible into their eager little brains, but you learn it too!

Enjoy the edited version!

January 1, 2009 at 11:03 am 87 comments

My friend’s in the news!

The Minneapolis Star Tribune ran an article today about my friend Dorothy and her family.

Why should you read it?

  • She has 10 children, 7 of whom are adopted. (If that alone doesn’t have you curious…)
  • She’s faithful to her calling to be a Christian in her neighborhood, loving her neighbor as herself.
  • She’s a nurturing mother to all her children.
  • She’s one of the most joyful people I know.

There’s also a beautiful slideshow you can view.

I’m thankful to know a woman like Dorothy. She’s taught me so much. I love you, Dorothy!

bodes

December 25, 2008 at 8:52 pm 13 comments

Beyond Presents, Food, and Endless Events

I was shocked to see the Christmas stuff out at Costco right after back-to-school was over. Seriously?!?! Does anyone really have their act together enough to be thinking about Christmas in September?

For our family, the busyness of the season begins this week. Orison’s birthday starts it off tomorrow, and we don’t really take a breath until next year.

There will be 3 major holidays, 5 birthdays, and 1 milestone wedding anniversary between Friday and mid-January.

I really want this time of year to be intentional, where we take time to talk and ponder words like Thanksgiving and Advent and Immanuel. I want to feel them somewhere in the middle of my chest.

I want them to take my breath away.

I’m excited for the things that make this season busy. I want to stand in awe and joyfully celebrate forty years of my in-laws’ faithfulness to God and each other in marriage. I want to lift my voice to sing “Happy Birthday” multiple times to people I love and then again to sing “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” and “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” to the God who sent his Son so that I could love them.

I want these things to land on me in ways that go beyond presents and food and endless events.

Only God can do this in my heart. Only he can open my eyes to take notice of the beauty around me. Only he can free me from the love of money and consumerism that would numb me. I pray that he does it for me, and for all of you too.

November 13, 2008 at 8:18 pm 32 comments

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