Made for another world

"If I discover within myself a desire which no experience in the world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world." C. S. Lewis

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Women who Inspire: The Sisterhood

Sister - (from 
12. being or considered a sister; related by or as if by sisterhood: sister ships. 
13. having a close relationship with another because of shared interests, problems, or the like. 

I have been undeniably blessed by precious women in my life. Some close family, some lived before my time, some have rubbed me hard smoothing away jagged edges, some young, some old, some who know my heart deeply and still love me, some I've never met. But all sharing a common relation, fellowship birthed from the blood of Jesus. Sweet family, a gift. These women have so energized my Christian walk I just had to introduce some of them to you. (I hope you will post a comment and tell me about the women who have blessed your life.)

    Amy Carmichael

    This week's sister:
    I don't know how old I was when I first heard the story of Amy Carmichael but I do know the memory of it's power has never left me. I was astounded by a world so foreign, so dangerous; I was even more astounded by a woman who would willingly go alone to make a difference. Amy Carmichael was born in 1867 in Northern Ireland, the oldest of seven children. Her life pursuit of serving others began when she was just a teenager and continued until she died at the age of 83 in India. She spent 55 years in India pouring out her life in love for the most vulnerable. She dressed as an Indian and entered their world, moved by the plight of girls often victims of infanticide and temple prostitution.She suffered from poor health and physical weakness but her heart and actions were courageous. Dohnavur Fellowship, founded by Amy as a sanctuary for children, rescued hundreds from a life of suffering. She became their Amma, mother. In her 55 years of missionary work in India not once did she return home to Ireland, not once. Her passion was her life, the children her family.

    Amy wrote many books and songs over the course of her life. Here is an excerpt from "Lotus Buds" in which she compares the children of India to lotus flowers, her passion is evident:
    "All souls are His [God's], all flowers. An alien power has possessed them, counted them as his for so many generations, that we have almost acquiesced to the shameful confiscation. But neither souls nor flowers are his who did not make them. They were never truly his. They belong to the Lord of all the earth, the Creator, the Redeemer. The little Lotus buds are His - His and not another's. The children of the temples of South Indiaare His - His and not another's. So now we go forth with the Owner Himself to claim His own possession. There is hope in the thought, and confidence and the purest inspiration. And, stirred to the very depths, as we are and must be many a time when we see the tender Lotus buds gathered by a hand that has no right to them, and crushed underfoot; bewildered and sore troubled, as the heart cannot help being sometimes, when the mystery of apparent victory of evil over good is overwhelming; even so there will be always a hush, a rest, a repose of spirit, as we stand by the Lotus-pools of life and seek in His Name to gather His flowers."

    As a child I knew I wanted to live a life of purpose, a life of love, inspired by compassion flowing from a heart so humble. Years after her work on this earth is done, Amy is still teaching, bright example moving others to love the vulnerable and unlovely. In a letter replying to a young woman who had asked what missionary life was like Amy wrote, "Missionary life is simply a chance to die." Ah, a heart like Jesus, I'm honored to count her as one of the sisters I have yet to meet. 

    Testimonies like Amy's compel me to live in the moment, seek God for the now, die to fantasizing about the fulfillment of empty desires. How about you? Is there someone whose example compels you to dig deeper, love more richly, sacrifice more freely? I'd love to hear about them.

    Monday, May 30, 2011

    A Basket Full of Thanks {Mondays}

    And the count to 1,000 gifts continues. I'm amazed and thankful at the change of perspective the little Basket of Thanks has made in our family's hearts. My 7 year old, Max, is always looking for something to be thankful for, when you look you always find. When I'm overwhelmed or disappointed, I start numbering the gifts and my heart lightens.

    So today, on this day of remembering, I want to number gifts of a more patriotic nature. I find my perspective of America has at times been negative and critical, but I want that to change too, so I will look and I know I will find gifts to be thankful for.

    21. Freedom birthed from passion, forged in conflict, written in blood.
    22. Amazing creativity, ingenuity and artistry, pursued in these states of opportunity.
    24. I'm thankful for the soldiers that fought before and the soldiers who are fighting now (Max).
    25. Variety, sometimes a challenge. Always a chance for deepening our character into ones of compassion, courage, humility.
    26. Apple pie, hot dogs, grits, hamburgers, sweet tea (they make me feel patriotic!).
    27. Beauty; purple mountains, lush forests, sparkling beaches, rock formations, country roads, home.
    28. Knowledge available for everyone, uncensored, free.
    29. Leaders who have led with conviction, fortitude and often great sacrifice; some famous, others obscure.
    30. Freedom to pursue the ultimate freedom in Christ. John 8:31b-32 Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

    Go here to read my patriotic tribute.

    Saturday, May 28, 2011

    I Remember

    A Nation's Strength

    What makes a nation's pillars high
    And it's foundations strong?
    What makes it mighty to defy
    The foes that round it throng?

    It is not gold. Its kingdoms grand
    Go down in battle shock;
    Its shafts are laid on sinking sand,
    Not on abiding rock.

    Is it the sword? Ask the red dust
    Of empires passed away;
    The blood has turned their stones to rust,
    Their glory to decay.

    And is it pride? Ah, that bright crown
    Has seemed to nations sweet;
    But God has struck its luster down
    In ashes at his feet.

    Not gold, but only men can make
    A people great and strong;
    Men who for truth and honor's sake
    Stand fast and suffer long. 

    Lewis Bankhead, WWII


    Brave men who work while others sleep,
    Who dare while others fly...
    They build a nation's pillars deep
    And lift them to the sky.

    by Ralph Waldo Emerson

    Reagor Hearn, Korean War

    Just like every nation from the beginning of time, America has had it's moments of blazing glory and dark hours of shame. It's story a reflection of the humanity that has dreamed and inhabited her, some hearts flawed others burning pure.

    Regardless of her reputation or destiny, I am proud of my American heritage, I count my birth on her land an undeserved grace. Not because of her intrinsic virtue but because of the safety and freedom, luxury and opportunity my birth here has afforded me. Had I been born a girl in another country would I have been educated, sold into slavery, married as a child or even allowed to live? I can't know the answer, but I do know that here in America my life has been good. And, regardless of the serious problems facing her and the shame she struggles under, I am thankful to be her daughter. Branches of my family, and Chris', have been here since she was born and, for better or worse, my small destiny is entwined with her great one.

    So today I remember. I remember her birth, tumultuous and brave, gasping for first breaths of freedom. I remember her heart rending under the weight of war between brothers dressed in gray and blue, her children's blood spilling across her own grassy skin. I remember a nation of boys going to right a world's wrongs, to send evil running, coming home as men, twice. And all the men and women in between in more complicated, harder to define conflicts, wars, skirmishes. Only two are pictured here but there have been many of our family members numbered among their ranks. So this weekend I remember, by God's grace, it is her people who have made her great.

    Friday, May 27, 2011

    Friday Favorites: Hinds Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard, reviewed

    This week I'm delighted to share with you a book that is truly my all time favorite. It comes in right under the Bible on my list of best books for beauty, inspiration and impact. In some ways it's hard to share why a book that is so personal is special to me. The time I've spent in it's pages have been utterly life altering, holy, I've met Jesus there.

    The author, Hannah Hurnard, was a humble young woman with deep fears and a speech impediment. I believe it was her humility and neediness that allowed her to write such a vulnerable account of intimacy with her Savior. The book is written as an allegory of the Christian life. The main character, Much-Afraid, lives up to her name, but she's on a journey of transformation, as are all who know Jesus. Peppered with colorful characters we've all met in our daily lives; the Shepherd, Sorrow, Suffering, Pride, Mrs. Valiant, Self-pity, Bitterness, to name a few. Following Much-Afraid's own journey to the "High Places of Love" is an invitation to participate in the journey as well. One filled with altars of sacrifice, leaps of faith, lessons of trust, and through it all a love story unfolds. The love of a Shepherd who has paid the ultimate price to lead his beloved ones into his Father's kingdom of Love.

    I almost feel as if I'm giving away a great secret, so personal is this encounter, it's so much more than a book. The Shepherd says it best, "I must tell you a great truth, Much-Afraid, which only the few understand. All the fairest beauties in the human soul, its greatest victories, and its most splendid achievements are always those which no one else knows anything about, or can only dimly guess at. Every inner response of the human heart to Love and every conquest over self-love is a new flower on the tree of Love. Many a quiet, ordinary, and hidden life, unknown to the world, is a veritable garden in which Love's flowers and fruits have come to such perfection that it is a place of delight where the King of Love himself walks and rejoices with his friends."

    So let me invite you to go on a journey with Much-Afraid as your guide, to the High Places of Love. I don't think you'll regret it. I'd love to know, what book has touched your heart and shown you the love of Jesus?

    Thursday, May 26, 2011

    A Healing Place

    I don't often write about my husband, Chris, or our marriage on my blog, not because it isn't important in my life, quite the opposite. Because he is so important, however, I  want to honor him and I know he doesn't care for the spotlight. I've been thinking about marriage lately though and I have some observations I want to share.

    I looked up the occurrence of the words marriage, husband, wife and healing in the bible to see if I was going in the right direction. I think I am. Perhaps I'm late arriving at the party and I'm just figuring out what everyone else has already known, if so I do apologize. Let me ask the question "What do you think the purpose of marriage is?" Probably not many of us would answer outright, marriage makes me happy. We'd probably try be more spiritual or mature and say something like, marriage is for partnership, it makes me a better person, to share a burden, to teach us about love, it makes life better etc. But even though we may say otherwise, I think we behave as if marriage is about making us happy, at least I'm going to confess that I do.

    I think though, for Christians, marriage is about healing. The bible repeatedly draws the parallel between divine love and human love. Jesus came to heal; to heal our broken relationship with the Father, heal our spirits from the stain of sin, heal our minds from flawed thinking, heal our bodies from the curse of death. Ultimately that's the whole point, healing. What if marriage was a safe place for healing? What if marriage wasn't about how the other person made us feel, but how we allowed them the space and support to heal? Perhaps then we would be imitating Jesus' relationship with his bride.

    It's taken me a long time to get this concept, sometimes I remember it and sometimes I don't, just ask Chris. Now that we've been married twelve years, I look back and I wish I had realized at the beginning, a healthy marriage is one that is consciously designed to be a place of healing. There's enough judgement from the rest of the world without our spouses pushing us to conform us to their ideal or shaming us into their preferred behavior. I admit I still have a ginormous amount to learn about offering Chris the freedom he needs to hear from and be parented by God, without my uninvited input and impatience but my support.

    I look back at the early days of our marriage and I know a lot of growth has happened. I also know, since we live up close and personal, that there are still areas God wants to work on in Chris' life, I'm positive he's equally aware of similar areas in mine. Our spouses are all different, but one thing I've learned about my husband is that if I want to see who he really is, if I want to be invited into the intimacy of his heart, I must walk softly. Several years ago a mental image popped into my head. My husband is an introvert, he doesn't enjoy chaos or conflict, who does really. I had the picture of a timid rabbit in the woods, shy and quiet, if you sit down very still maybe the bunny will come out and nose around you and get comfortable but if you go singing and tromping through the forest all the woodland creatures scurry. Sometimes I call Chris my woodland creature to remind myself to act accordingly. I think to an extent that's true of all of us. Our hearts need a place of safety to unfurl and blossom.

    I wrote in my previous post about Jennifer, my friend with Down syndrome, and how God had allowed me to see her beauty, but only because I was looking. I think that applies in marriage. We are all undergoing a transformation, but some spouses, due to trauma, need heart surgery and marriage is like a triage. No matter where we are in the process in each spouse is beauty to be seen, but only if we walk softly and look. Is your husband stressed and snappish, walk softly and look for the beauty. Does your wife struggle with an addiction in an attempt to find her self worth, use quiet words and look for beauty. Is your spouse stuck in a broken means of coping with past wounds, which only causes more pain, use the gentle hands of Jesus and look for beauty. I'm not saying it's easy, living in close quarters with another person's pain, weaknesses, sin is messy but that's why we need to have new eyes to see what the purpose of marriage really is. Marriage is not ultimately for our comfort although we certainly can have comfort in companionship, it's not just for pleasure although there is often greater joy shared with our spouse than anyone else, it's not only for safety although protection from the harshness of life can be found in marriage. Ultimately marriage is a microcosm of the love of Jesus for his people, the people he bled for, the people he prays for, people who will ultimately be healed and made completely whole by his care. And that, I believe, is the right expectation of marriage, to foster an environment in which our spouse meets Jesus, in us, on their journey to being made whole, sanctified, pure and holy. Big words I know, now I need to learn how to live them.

    "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails... And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." 1 Corinthians 13:4-8,13

    These verses were most certainly written for the church to understand how to love one another, no doubt they may be applied to marriage as well. For what purpose is this kind of love, other than a partnership with Jesus in another person's journey, to bring about good, healing, life. What a profound privilege and daunting responsibility. God is brutally serious about marriage, because it's a mirror image of his heart, it tells how he faithfully loves us from death to life.

    I'd love to hear from you. Do you agree or think I'm off base? How has God taught you about his nature through your marriage?

    Tuesday, May 24, 2011

    Women who Inspire: The Sisterhood

    Sister -  (from
    12. being or considered a sister; related by or as if by sisterhood: sister ships.
    13. having a close relationship with another because of shared interests, problems, or the like.

    I have been undeniably blessed by precious women in my life. Some close family, some lived before my time, some have rubbed me hard smoothing away jagged edges, some young, some old, some who know my heart deeply and still love me, some I've never met. But all sharing a common relation, fellowship birthed from the blood of Jesus. Sweet family, a gift. These women have so energized my Christian walk I just had to introduce some of them to you. (I hope you will post a comment and tell me about the women who have blessed your life.)

    This week's sister:
    I met Jennifer four years ago and I had no idea at the time that she would change my life. To be honest, at the time she unnerved me just a bit. Not so any more, Jennifer is my sister. As a matter of fact she has often asked me if I am her sister, to which I heartily agree. Jennifer was born with Down syndrome, and if that wasn't enough, as a young woman she was diagnosed with schizophrenia. I remember wondering at the time, "God why was that necessary, isn't Down syndrome plenty, her life had to get worse?"  So, over time, he showed me why.

    For some reason Jennifer liked me, so at church on Sunday's, or other gatherings, she often followed me around. I didn't mind too much and had a soft spot for her. One Sunday she was particularly clingy, I excused myself to go to the restroom, telling her I would be right back. A couple of minutes later Jennifer was standing outside of the bathroom stall, keeping me company, it was a cozy conversation. Some things you just have to laugh about!

    One Monday, not long after the bathroom incident, I was thinking about Jennifer. The thought came to me that although Jennifer's body, and perhaps even mind, are diseased, her spirit is not. I asked God, "does that mean her spirit is confined by her body but able to connect with you?" And then I asked the most important question yet. "God will you help me to see her the way you do, will you help me to connect to her spirit? Show me what you see." And he did. I began to feel a strong love for Jennifer, I wanted to protect and include her. I wanted to honor her as an adult and not treat her as a child. I wanted to know her, as best I could.

    God led me to the passage in 1 Corinthians 12 about the body, a passage I had never completely understood. Sure I understood the analogy of the church being one body made up of many parts. It was this concept I had never understood: "But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be...those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it."

    God had answered my why. Jennifer, and the specific needs that come with her, had been placed in the church body as much for it's health as for hers. Her very presence was an opportunity for us to see her, to love her like Jesus, we would be better for it. I never saw anyone be rude or unkind to Jennifer, but very few people treated her as indispensable, with special honor and modest protection. Jennifer has a role to play in the body that is indispensable, she tethers us to God's compassionate heart, her life insists we use God vision, she forces us to offer mother bear protection. "God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be." In many ways I've come to view Jennifer as more important than the "important" people.

    When God opened my heart to really see Jennifer, to push past the barrier of her body and connect to her spirit, I found a sister. I know Jennifer loves me and I love her, and because I was looking I've seen her beauty. My family has since moved away and I miss Jennifer but she is someone I will never forget. Jennifer is a woman that inspires me, God has used her to teach me about his great heart and I'm honored.

    How do you respond when you meet someone with special needs or challenges? I understand it can be uncomfortable but I hope you will take the opportunity to look past their limitations and into their heart. Ask God to show you their beauty, but don't expect to see it unless you believe it exists. I would love to hear from you! Who is someone that has unexpectedly inspired you?

    Monday, May 23, 2011

    A Basket Full of Thanks {Mondays}

    I'm continuing my Monday counting of One Thousand Gifts, along with many other women taking Ann Voskamp's challenge. Max, Maggie and I are filling our basket up with thanks, what a joy to see the pieces of paper covered in words of thanksgiving grow.  

    "All creatures look to you to give them their food at the proper time. When you send your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the ground. May the glory of the LORD endure forever;  may the LORD rejoice in his works— he who looks at the earth, and it trembles, who touches the mountains, and they smoke. I will sing to the LORD all my life;  I will sing praise to my God as long as I live." Psalm 104:27, 30-33

    11. Days of sunshine and slow paces just to enjoy.
    12. My little Maggie napping with her Daddy, pure sweetness.
    13. Dinner out with my love, just the two of us, enjoying heart to heart time.
    14. Books (Max)

     15. Sunlight on lily pads.

    16.  Trees lifting arms, reaching to touch Designer's face.

    17. Freckles on noses I love to kiss.
    18. Baby animals (Max)
    19. Silence, precious when it comes.
    20. Lunchbox (Maggie)

    What are some of the God gifts you enjoyed this past week, how are you thankful, I'd love to know!