Monday, August 25, 2008

Ten Cents' Worth

I find dimes all the time. No, really. "So what?" you may ask. Yeah, that's what I said until it got to be a little less like coincidence and more like there was some kind of message I was supposed to be picking up on. I started 'finding dimes' my junior year of college and the dime sightings just haven't stopped. From couch cushions to window ledges, bowling alleys to recording studios, from a sidewalk in a Chicago suburb to a dirt road in Guatemala, I'll wager I've found lone dimes on at least 200 different occasions. In fact, I just picked one up in the Chicago airport underneath a vacant chair in the row across from where I was sitting. It is as if someone is leaving a trail for me, but I don't know what it means or to where it leads. Anyone who is close to me knows all about my dime findings, and most people just laugh because they secretly think I'm crazy when I tell them about my growing collection. Nevertheless, stumbling upon this small silver coinage has become a regular occurrence in my life, and I can't help but wonder why.

Now don't get me wrong here, I am far from the superstitious type. But after something as random as finding dimes somehow becomes habitual (not because I'm looking for them but because they pretty much throw themselves at me), I have to at least try and figure out what in the world of dimes is going on. So, one day a few years back while I was driving from point A to point B with an hour in between, I started thinking about dimes. Maybe I'm a distant relative of Franklin Roosevelt? Nah. What would that matter anyway? So then I started pondering the number 10. Ten what? Ten kids? Whoa. I want a lot of children but I doubt we'll hit the double digits. Ten years until...what? This was getting me nowhere. So then I began to think about the actual word, 'dime.' Dime rhymes with time. But it couldn't bet THAT complicated, right? Is this some kind of riddle? After about 40 minutes of this, it hit me. Dime is spelled d-i-m-e. If you split that word in half you get di me. So for one reason or another, I came to the conclusion that the Lord was telling me, every time I discovered a dime, to 'die to me.' Now that might not be it at all, but it's Biblical, and I can't imagine anything but good coming out of remembering to die to myself every time I stumbled across Franklin Roosevelt's silver face. So until further notice, my dimes will serve to remind me of Matthew 16:24 when Jesus said, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me."

Friday, August 8, 2008

Grief Gives Way to Hope

On my wedding day, my dad and I danced to "Cinderella" by Stephen Curtis Chapman, and although that day was full of wedded bliss for us, I couldn't help but cry as the song played and I thought of a precious little girl who had died just 2 days before named Maria Sue. She was one of the inspirations for her daddy's song, and my heart was heavy knowing that she would never have her father/daughter dance on her wedding day.

I just watched Larry King Live on which he interviewed the Chapmans, still wrestling deep in their grief, but obviously remaining deeper still in the hope that has sustained them. I am amazed. I, like many others, have cried reading every article or watching every interview about this tragic accident. My heart has been so moved and encouraged and broken for a family that is truly clinging to Jesus for every breath. How the Lord must trust them to allow such a horrific loss and blinding sorrow and yet still find them holding to who they know their God to be. 

Tragedy is all around us. We see it on the news and read it in the paper and pray to God that it doesn't come near us. But after seeing the honest but hopeful response from the Chapmans, I am forced to ask myself the question, "What if that were me?" How would I cope? Where would I run? Would I sing as loudly about a loving God when I am pained beyond what I can bear as I do when my heart is burden free? My faith has been challenged to the core just by watching this family and the way they have been honest about their pain but never once doubted the arms that were holding them. I am reminded that we do not grieve as those who have no hope. Our lives on this earth are but a breath, short and fragile, and we were made for a much better place. One day we will be completely whole, finally in His presence. Until then may we as followers of Jesus remain faithful to the God whose name is Faithful even in the midst of our darkest night or worst nightmare, knowing that He is good in all things. He is our Sustainer. He is the Father who loves us. He is the one holding Maria even now.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Sonia: Courageous Love

I first noticed Sonia because of the green chiffon shawl she had draped across her left shoulder, covering her left arm. She was a beautiful Latina with her dark auburn-tinted hair pulled to one side in a loose pony tail and except for her shawl, she was dressed in all white. Though there was a hint of fine lines around her weary eyes, they revealed a beauty and solace that can only come from living a life spent loving. Sonia has a heroic story to say the least, and just by watching her it made me want to really do something with my life. 

Sonia lived in the United States during the 80's but felt that her heart was being drawn back to her homeland of the Dominican Republic to start a home for abandoned children. She obeyed the voice of the Lord and stepped out in faith in hopes of rescuing orphans. She knew that the children would not show up at her door step all at once, so she dedicated her days to going out and looking for abandoned kids. She started looking close to the Haiti border and one day found a little 9-month-old girl crawling around the trash dump, searching for food with the dogs. Sarita was one of the first children that Sonia brought back to the orphanage, and she is now a healthy and happy teenager. Early on in Sonia's rescue mission, she had found a few girls who had been sold into trafficking and was bringing them back to the orphanage. While en route to La Romana, a cow ran out in front of their car and they were in a very bad accident. All the children were fine, but Sonia lost her left arm, in her mind, a sacrifice well worth the lives of the girls she so valiantly brought out of the sex trade. She now wears a shawl over where her left arm used to be, a reminder to all of us that we must bravely love no matter what the cost. There are now about 120 girls living in Sonia's home for children, girls that now have a future because of one woman's courageous love.


Although subdued for the camera, Jennifer is a fiery and fun 3-year-old who has been at the orphanage for about a month. I refrained from packing her in my suitcase, but boy did I want to take her home.

Live Love

Jacob and I just returned from a life changing week in the Dominican Republic. We were able to link up with 150 youth and volunteers from The Rock at McLean Bible Church just outside of DC and spend 7 amazing days sharing the Gospel on village streets, partnering with local area churches, washing little feet and putting new shoes on those same feet, singing Spanish songs about Jesus, and spending the week with the sweetest kids in an orphanage in La Romana. We were all deeply impacted by the precious people of that country, and our eyes were opened to the great physical and spiritual need there that we as the Church are responsible to meet. 

I will not soon forget the faces and stories I witnessed, and this blog will serve as a reminder that I cannot merely stand by and close my eyes to what I have seen, nor can I use a week long mission trip to appease my conscience and tell me the lie that I did my part when there are still so many laying their heads on a cardboard bed at night hungry, resorting to violence and trafficking due to extreme poverty (not just physical poverty), and inevitably dying without heart-knowledge of the God who unceasingly loves them. I wish to, in the coming blogs, share a few accounts of our trip in hopes of stirring your heart for the least of these and reminding myself this new found knowledge is just the beginning. Now comes the test: what will I do to help? Now having seen what I saw, how will I act upon that knowledge? The challenge is to daily step outside of our comfortable little lives to recognize the needs all around us and act accordingly. After all, James was dead on when he said, "Faith without works is dead," as well as Paul: "And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." Let's put our faith in action and live love.