How Beautiful

Courtesy Iris South Sudan

Courtesy of Iris South Sudan

I should be finishing writing my case study due later today not writing this post. But I can’t not write this post.

I just received news from what was my home for almost seven years about a little boy I have not met.  Sebit came after my time there. Carolyn, who took over the leadership of the base (and is an incredible leader with a true mama’s heart) has been sharing updates about his health and progress.

For the last year the staff has lovingly and tenderly changed bandages on a severe leg wound that refused to heal.  They have prayed and worshiped and stood with every ounce of faith they had for miraculous healing for over 365 days in the face of the impossible.  Yesterday with little more than a spinal block and some tranquilizers this precious one had his leg amputated to preserve his life.

As he was going into the procedure he sang worship songs with lines like Your praise will ever be on my lips God and I belong to You God, forever I belong to You and Our Father in heaven, holy is Your name, Your kingdom come quickly.

I can’t even begin to fathom how silent heaven must have been in awe of this young boy’s sacrifice of worship.  I am quite sure angels were hushed as Father leaned extra close to receive this love offering outpoured.

In the middle of such squalid conditions where they had to borrow and sterilize a neighbor’s saw for the procedure, where flies buzz around the recovery room… In the middle of loss and pain and realities so stark it is impossible to fully imagine unless you have been there, in the middle of the mystery of God’s goodness when things don’t happen in the way we are hoping… In the middle of all this, one clear voice arrests heaven with its worship. Sebit’s.

I heard that he was told stories of me having one leg and starting the children’s village and I have been choking back grateful tears that the legacy lives on and that the people who are still rooted deeper in my heart than I have language to express are still being encouraged.  I miss everyone there so very very much. I wish I could be there to hold this dear one’s hand and tell him it really is going to be ok.

But I know he is in good hands and that God has brought a new generation of leaders there who are the right ones for this time and season.  They are weaving their legacy into the fabric there and I celebrate the beauty and authenticity and raw humility that they bring with their lives laid down.  I am just so grateful to see what was started in love growing beyond my wildest dreams in love and grace and power.

How beautiful are the feet of them who bring good news. Sebit is a good news bringer and I can only grasp the edges of what a mighty call he has on his life.  Would you please keep him and Carolyn and all the family there in your prayers this week as he is recovering and adapting to a new way of doing things?

Thank you friends.

Follow Carolyn’s latest updates over on http://irissouthsudan.org. You will be encouraged and challenged to follow Jesus wherever He is calling you.  You can also support the work by following the instructions on their giving page here.

Forged from the Flame

flameforged-webThis is a daring, put-my-heart-on-a-screen kind of post.  It is a bit raw and not at all tame.

It has been a rough couple of years.  If you been reading along, you know rough is an understatement. It has been the kind of years that polish and buffet and take rough edges off the soul.  Storms and suffering, deep grief and loss that threatened to swallow me whole.  Some of the storms are still blowing wild.  And some days are still raw and hard.  They just are.

But the good news is Jesus can still silence any storm with a whisper.  Any gale at any time.  Pervasive loss does not have to mean permanently lost.  The same “loss” that took me out of Africa gave me the gift of a blank canvas to begin again in America.

It is absolutely impossible to ever really lose that which is sown in love.

My life and the dreams and promises sown in the red earth of Africa can never be stripped away.  Not by circumstance. Not by the words or actions of others.  Not by sickness. Not by spiritual attack. Not by injustice.  Not by any created thing.  It is a beautiful thing to watch that which I had opportunity to plant in love be nurtured in love by the current, new generation of leaders there.

Recently I made a list of things I felt loss over when transitioning out of my old assignment.  I discovered most of what I wrote down:

  1. Were things I never really had to begin with
  2. Were things that have no bearing on my future
  3. Were things that potentially could have capped or cut short my actual calling.
  4. Were things that in essence could never actually be taken away.

So those things are not actually losses.  They are in essence gains.  Most of the things I did “lose” (stress, malaria episodes, etc.) were things I don’t miss at all.

{Of course I miss the children and my friends there.  But they can never be lost to my heart because they are held within it and will be forever.}

I’m not making light of what I’ve walked through the last 2 years.  But I refuse to let it keep me from walking onward in all God has for me.

Then I made a list of what I’ve gained.  It was 3-4 times the length of the list of losses.

Looking at the lists together it dawned on me, the only things burned up in the flame were the things that would have held me back.  I was not burned in the fire, I was forged from it.  What has come through the flames is stronger, purer and more authentically His than I ever was before I started this journey. 

There will always be storms, struggles and seasons of suffering this side of eternity.  But now I hold onto a deeper knowing I have only, ever gained from them.  Again this doesn’t negate very real emotions I still feel and have to work through.  It simply supersedes them.

Maybe you’ve been through a hard season too of late?  Perhaps get with Jesus and make a list of what you felt like you lost and/or actually lost and then what you have gained.  You may be surprised to find out some things “lost” were actually gains in the light of eternity.  Others weren’t truly lost at all.  Changed yes, lost no.

The bravest journeys of all start inside us.  Often our biggest battles are hidden ones.  I pray you too find beauty in the storm and greater definition forged from the very furnace the enemy intended for destruction.  May we be the ones created from the flames.

Creativity Ignited

Well this didn’t happen today neither did the #TuesdayTutorial.  Other things took precedence {like my air con drain for the building flooding run off into my carpeted hallway for all 3 floors of the building} & allergies made my face into something I really didn’t want to digitally immortalize until it unpuffed itself… but I am working on being back on track next week.

Super excited about this new adventure and about having YOU on it with me.  Take a walk on the wild side and get in touch with your creativity this spring.  I may not be traveling much in these season but I’m happy to be sharing online. Pop on over and sign up to follow all the latest.  Looking forward to seeing you there!

Let It Go: It’s Not Just Frozen’s Theme Song

websimple

I started the year off with a commitment to simplify.  Everything.  Then as life does, life happened and now it is March.  No time like the present to get going on those New Year’s resolutions.

So here it is- my “spring cleaning” minimalism manifesto.  Call it guidelines to creating a life with space for more of what matters.  As I sort and organize and decide what stays and goes and where it all fits best, here are some of the thoughts behind my decision making process.

LET IT GO.

  • If it is worn beyond its use, cannot be re-purposed or transformed, let it go.
  • If it has no place or function and cannot be re-purposed and/or put away, let it go.
  • If it is more than 2 sizes away from where I am, worn/dingy, a style I just won’t wear anymore, reminds me of anything I don’t want to be reminded of or is something that doesn’t scream I AM GORGEOUS or I TOTALLY LOVE THIS (a set or two of scruffy gardening clothes and workout wear aside}, let it go.
  • If there are 10 duplicates without a specific purpose, keep only a few, let the rest go.
  • If I haven’t worn it in a year and it isn’t for a special purpose (i.e. formal wear, uniform, etc.), let it go.
  • If I haven’t worn it in a year and it isn’t for a special purpose (i.e. formal wear, uniform, etc.), but has crazy sentimental value… I’ll be cutting a swatch, saving the swatches and creating a collage on canvas, the rest- let it go.
  • If it is out of season and I know I can’t wait to wear it when it gets cold or hot again, wash, sort, pack away: otherwise let it go.
  • If it doesn’t have a purpose AND a place, let it or something else go.
  • If paperwork is more than a year old and is not needed for everyday reference: file & store according to documentation needs and shred the rest. Let it go.
  • If drawers are overflowing with nebulous amalgams of random things, sort and let anything not needed AND loved go.
  • If “stuff” has been collecting for a project more than 6-9 months & I have yet to start, let it go.
  • If it doesn’t help my mental, emotional, spiritual being, let it go.

Minimalism isn’t about if you live in 250 square feet or only have 100 things in your possession, it is a journey and a lifestyle valuing things that matter most, most.  It is understanding that trying to fill emotional or relational holes with things makes us stuffed up not WHOLE.  And whole hearts and relationships are what make us truly rich in ways our bank accounts never can or will.

As you spring clean and organize, why not consider simplifying at the same time?

Introducing HeART Journaling

signpost1aTime moves so quickly it seems.  Days slip into months and months slip into years.  I want to make the most of each and every moment.  Savor the very marrow of life.

Journaling, especially creative journaling  helps me do this.  It is a space I can still, slow and celebrate while learning and becoming more of who I am created to be.  Over the last few years as I have been on this journey myself, I’ve noticed repeated themes that function like different pathways leading into greater authenticity and understanding.

HeART Journaling is creative journaling that engages 1 or more of 8 different pathways leading towards a more authentic, WHOLEheARTed life. The ART in HeART Journaling is a commitment to honest story-telling (even when we are simply telling stories to ourselves) told from a place of Authentic Raw Transparency™, where masks are shed and we bravely embrace our own story lines.

{Find out about these 8 creative pathways & keep reading this post over on WHOLEheARTed here}.