Beauty That Remains

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Building a house is no joke. How about this? Building a house in a third-world country.

My heart still stings when I think, talk and dream about Honduras. Back one week now, tears bite at the corners of my eyes on mention. Little by little I reacclimatize to being home and I get so excited to tell our story.

Actually….God’s story.

We had an incredible team hand-picked by God; a blend of new people, some of whom had never left the country before, let alone on a mission trip and some who are well-traveled veterans. None of us, with the exception of one (I believe) have any real building experience.  Funny how that has never made a difference….. IMG_1068

UnknownGod enters into the scenario. Only through Him do you get a team of men and women to create something wonderful with no experience. He always shows up and always blows my mind. This is who He is.

We arrived on our build site to find 2 foundations poured, side-by-side. This was amazing, as we were really praying for this prior to the trip, so we could share recourses throughout our build time AND not have to split up the team. We made some preparations with our team foreman, and set off on our task of building two transitional homes for families living and working in the trash dump in Tegucigalpa.

We had 3 and a half days to build these houses!

IMG_0928IMG_0863   Building relationships is one of the best things that I love about mission work. Partnering with God, alongside other people; some of whom you’ve never met, to create something; These people become your family. It’s happened with every mission trip I’ve been on. There is nothing like that bond. It lasts and is one of many things that I feel blessed with from these trips.

As the days continued and houses were erected with the help of some amazing Honduran workers I loved watching the process. I loved being in the moment. I wasn’t rushing to get things done; I knew they would be. I wasn’t feeling a sense of urgency; I know everything works in God’s timing. I wasn’t worried we wouldn’t complete the houses; He who sent us, will equip us.  I found myself, several times, standing back and smiling at what was happening around me…..IMG_0848IMG_0830IMG_0780

Laughter between people of two different countries.

Conversations between people that do not speak the same language.

Differences being worked out in respectful ways between two strong-willed men.

IMG_0755Women learning how to use tools that I’m sure they’ve never used or possibly seen before.

Children shyly making eyes contact with us.

The young boys in the neighborhood who were always right there to help lift lumber and our spirits.

All of us bettering our Spanish language.

Learning new things everyday from our translators. (Some not so great…hello Chinche bug)

Women caring for one another when one of us fell ill.IMG_0710

The compassion we had for the ones that had to stay back at the hotel for sick days.

Making jokes with one another.

Laughter.

IMG_0912Dogs barking.

Turkeys gobbling.IMG_0706

So. Many. Smiles.

Generosity like I’ve never seen.

How thankful we were for one day’s rain.

Prayers being whispered for the clouds to show up in the sky.

The care everyone took to make sure everyone had a chance to try something new.

Complete selflessness.

IMG_0765Walls of a home being lifted.

Nails being bent and re-nailed to perfection.

Complete surrender and reliance on a God who was preparing the way ahead of us on this trip the entire time we were there.

Softened hearts.

IMG_0915Rooves <roofs> going onto houses.

Children teaching us Spanish.

The strengthening of our hearts.

Playing a simple game of Telephone in English and Spanish that created unbelievable amounts of laughter.IMG_0939

Smashed thumbs and healed hearts.

Fears being released.

Lives being changed.

Family being able to share an amazing experience together.

The love between a mother and son.

A mama trusting me enough to hold her chubby, baby girl.

IMG_0688Hands working together.

Great patience.

God’s love and presence everywhere.

IMG_1004A dad’s love for his sweet daughters.

Tears of joy.

Tired bodies still willing to do something more.

Butterflies.

Beauty in the struggle.

So. Many. Answered. Prayers.

And then….the day came for us to dedicate these houses to the families. This is really the moment we wait for. Meeting the families for the first time. Seeing them coming up the road, quietly, shy and grateful.  Maybe a little overwhelmed. This is where we see a reverse of blessings. The place where we think we are blessing someone, only to find out the blessing is coming right back onto us. To stand and witness a mother and her 3 small kids as she sees her new home for the first time; blessed.  This is the beauty of God.  It’s etched into my mind forever. I think in this moment; THIS, this is why we are here. This is why we have life. This is why we have been blessed beyond belief with the recourses to be here, in this moment. This….does it get any better than this? This is making kingdom differences. This is making world differences. images

As we pray for and dedicate these homes to the families;tears fall.  Our hearts ache with a joy that’s inconceivable to most.  The witnessing of God’s presence everywhere is undeniable and unimaginable.  God’s beauty is thick like a blanket over this place.  His never-ending mercy and grace abounds.  It’s what brought us here and what will continue to bring us here. Amor, Fe, Esperanza.  Love, Faith and Hope…To Him be the glory!

For more about partnering with AFE:http://www.afehonduras.org

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Love…Every Day

 

imagesI wanted to write this post-Valentines.  When all of the sugar and luscious, syrupy, candy-coated goodness of that day had passed.  I love Valentines Day as much as anyone (not really) but I can appreciate the 24 hours of outpouring some like to live in.  I believe that this should be an ongoing, and every day occurrence if you are in love.  To some degree.  And not designated to one day a year.  When you are with someone that you love and adore, every single day, there should be some sort of “Valentine” going on.  It doesn’t have to be flowers, chocolates, lattes, cards, gifts, teddybears, butterflies, ladybugs…Oh wait, there I go dreaming about Spring…but…Some.  Sort.  Of.  Shower. Of.  Love.  Every.  Single.  Day.  Simple as it may be, it goes a million miles.  Something selfless.   Isn’t that what we as Christians get every day?  A pouring out of love in our every day lives?

The week since Valentines has been hectic in every sense of the word for me.  Do you ever have “one of those days?”  Of course you do!  I think that cupid shot an arrow in me that was tied off on the other end of a rocket.  I have realized exactly whats been going on from a spiritual aspect, and that has helped tremendously.  I don’t do “busy” and when things start to spin for me, I always have to sit down, take a step back and look at things through another lens.  I need to peel off another layer of me, and put on more armor.  

Training is going well, but I am still dealing with a tiny calf issue.  Deep water running….(it pains me to even write that) has helped, and I think between that and a slight bike adjustment, I am good to go!  I also feel that this itty-bitty injury, was just another aspect in this week that was trying to weigh me down.  Peel a layer, put on the armor.

I admit that I am grateful for days and times like this.  It makes me realize that I am not in control and Who truly is.  It reminds me of Who to cling to.  It makes me feel ok, about taking a day to sit.  And do absolutely nothing.  Sit and listen, only.  Especially when the enemy has me busy.  It makes me appreciate my husband who dries my tears and takes my hands in his and prays.  My kid, who never forgets to make me laugh.  And my friends who pray for me and with me.  It keeps me grounded and soaking in what’s important.  It makes me aware of how broken I can be and how right in the midst of that brokeness, there is colossal growth.  An outpouring of love, a confirmation of advancement and improvement.  A challenge.  That…. is love, everyday.  That’s where we should be living.

everyday-Valentine

  

The Gift of Christmas

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I’m sitting in the stillness and the silence of my morning house.  The weekend before Christmas is upon us.  Snow is swirling in the air and it glistens in the sun that is attempting to poke throughout the clouds.  I am soaked in Peace.  I am saturated in the presence of the Sprit.  I think about my week and how I was witness, again, to the Gift of God shining in the most unexpected places.

I sink into my chair, wrapped in the warmth of blanket and fire and hum two of my favorite Christmas songs.  Oh Holy Night and Come All Ye Faithful.  I pause and reflect on the words,

Fall on your knees
Oh hear the angel voices
Oh night divine
Oh night when Christ was born
Oh night divine
Oh night divine

Fall on your knees.  How often I am here.  On my knees.  It doesn’t take a Christmas song to bring me there on a daily basis.

Come and behold Him,
Born the King of Angels;
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
Christ the Lord.

Adore Him.  The King of angels.  The King of this World.  The King of Glory.  The King of Kings.  Adore Him..

UnknownTwo songs say it all.  Fall on your knees and adore Him.  Drop to your knees and delight in Him.  Spill to your knees and glorify, exalt and esteem Him.  Not just today, not just for Christmas….this is what is necessary… Every.  Single.  Day.

I pray that the Christmas spirit finds a way to wrap itself around your very heart, all year long.  A Gift.

This week I had the amazing pleasure of sharing this Gift with someone.  Someone who had no hope, no promise, no faith.  That which started as a day to bless others serving a hot Christmas meal with my Life Group at the Food Bank, ended with my heart so swollen, and so in awe of the mercy and grace that God gives us.  The Gift of Love.  The Gift of Redemption.  The Gift of Hope and a Future. Unknown

I saw her sitting alone, and prayed as I approached her for bold, courage.  I prayed silently as I sat, that He give me the appropriate words to say.  That I be only a vessel of his love.  What if I had not listened?  She poured her heart out to me.  What if I had ignored His provoking of my heart?  She spilled every inch of her soul to me.  What if I would’ve talked instead of listening to her words of hopelessness and grief?  What if I hadn’t taken notice to His leading that prompted me to show a simple smile, to take time to sit and have a conversation, to look into eyes that showed pain, to take a hand and hold, and to hug a complete stranger?  How often do I do this?  Pass by.  Hurry on in my day.  What if I had not listened?  This story would have ended differently.  But on this day, as I held the trembling, thin, cracked hands of a complete stranger, He held my hands,  and He had a different plan….  And as I prayed with this sweet, delicate, woman, I felt His presence so powerful, and so strong.  His mercy and grace spilling onto her.  His love splashing around us.  Completely soaked in the goodness and graciousness of God.  And when she opened her eyes, I could see a hope that can only come from one Source.

From a Baby.  From the Lover of our souls.  From an almighty God that loves us without abandon.

The King of angels.  Christ the Lord.  The Gift.

………….Oh Come Let us Adore Him.Unknown-1