Monday, April 30, 2018

{ awake my soul }


  I watched a movie the other night called Noble ( A Dream can Change A Million Lives ). 

  The grief and the beauty tangled together in this story of redemption moved me in a profound way and left me overcome with emotion. It is based on the true story of a Irish woman named Christina Nobel who bravely and with great compassion overcame unspeakable trauma and devastation.  Born in Ireland in the mid forties Christina's childhood looked like year after year of poverty, grief , abandonment, abuse and incredible loss . Brokenness and pain that followed her into her adult years. One thing I really love about her story is her honest conversations with God, through every low, heartbreaking moment. It was during a especially low point in her life around 1971 that she had a dream about Vietnam:

"I don't know why I dreamed about Vietnam, perhaps it was because the country was so much in the news at the time. In the dream, naked Vietnamese children were running down a dirt road fleeing from a napalm bombing. The ground under the children was cracked and coming apart and the children were reaching to me. One of the girls had a look in her eyes that implored me to pick her up and protect her and take her to safety. Above the escaping children was a brilliant white light that contained the word 'Vietnam'." 

This was a dream which she would one day triumphantly fulfil, albeit 20 years later. In 1989, with the goal to assist children in need, Christina arrived in Vietnam.

Against all odds, Christina set up the Foundation in Ho Chi Minh City where the number of programmes has grown considerably across Vietnam. In 1997, Christina expanded the Foundation's operations into Mongolia but she still remains the principal driving force and inspiration and retains close personal contact with the children.

Christina Noble had a dream that was to transform not just her own life, but that of the lives of 700,000 children (and counting).

Taken from her website: Christina Noble Children's Foundation 

   As the finishing credits rolled I was sobbing uncontrollably.  I sat in the darkness, grief settled over my spirit like a blanket as I thought of my precious four sleeping safe and sound in their beds in such contrast to the numberless, unseen children of the world who go to sleep every night without a father and or a mother, who go to bed with hunger pains, starving for food and worse yet, starving for love. Grief for the voiceless children of the world who dread the unspeakable evil that comes as bedtime and all the coming hours hold to do to bruise their body and soul. My shoulders shook under the weight of this grief that defies definition and God's Father heart. The words to an old beloved Hillsong chorus rose in my heart: " Break my heart for what breaks yours, Everything I am for your Kingdom's cause, As I walk from earth into eternity. " Tell me, what is it that you want me to do?" I cried, without a sound into the darkness.

No answer came. 
Yesterday, no answer.
As I fell asleep last night, still no answer. 

I woke up this morning at 4:30 am and tossed and turned,  I felt the Lord gently reminding me to consider what He has already spoken, first in His word and also personally to me.

" Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you. " James 1:27

I don't know about you but it makes just as much sense that God would speak to you in the shower as anywhere else. I am guessing a lot of us do our crying in the shower. 
Four-ish months ago, on something like a random Tuesday morning. I was taking a quick shower before school drop-off for my two oldest to school. When something came to me out of a blue that very clearly felt like a call from God. I feel shy and hesitant about putting this into words. I didn't hear God's voice speak to me audibly. I don't know how to describe it other than it was maybe a twenty second visual that came out of nowhere. I saw in my minds eye a picture of a large room, a coffee shop/bakery of sorts. And I saw some of my close friends serving the customers there alongside several young teenage girls. As it played out in my head, I scanned the room and saw beautiful art, clothing and gifts for sale, all made with the cause of justice in mind. Not just stuff. Items with a purpose and a person behind the price tag. All of it, meant to bring intention, hope and awareness through each purchase. A way to highlight and provide for the needs first in our city, but also without borders. A small porthole to love the world. A way to raise our eyes as we drink our coffee, to put hands and feet to Jesus heart and affect change and transformation. A place to make visible those, who in God's eyes are most important and worthy of His/our attention.  The unloved and overlooked and unseen. In God's economy " the last shall be first." I am not someone who normally dreams dreams or has visions. But everywhere I look in the Word of God for confirmation to pursue this idea God has laid on my heart, I see it. I don't have answers and I have no idea how or if this will play out out but I am willing and ready to obey and take next steps as God makes them clear.   

I run across staggering statics like : 

 If all the orphans formed a country of their own, it would be among the 10th largest nations.

80% of domestic human trafficking victims were once in the foster care system.

According to UNICEFF, 22,000 children die each day due to poverty.

58% of women between the ages of 15 and 49 have had their genitals mutilated

The life expectancy of a child prostitute is 7 years. 

  Source: Pinterest

  And our hearts break and we determine not live small, selfish lives. Lets not get distracted by anything short of loving well and big.

  Target. Pinterest. Instagram. Homeschooling curriculum. HGTV shows. Netflix. Our busy schedule. Crafting. Homemaking. All good things I love and wrestle with every single day. But I pray for God awaken my heart to people first. I pray that none of those things distract me from the call to see and love people. Especially the people right under my roof. I see Satan coming at me as an Christian, American stay at home mom from a different angle. He knows this " not good "good girl " wouldn't be tempted by drugs or alcohol or lust as much as I would good, pretty things that make no impact on the Kingdom of God whatsoever. It's that tension and fine line for me of the good so often becoming the enemy of the best in my life and before I know it my energy and all the hours of my day are full of more things that really have nothing to do with Jesus transforming my heart, my family and that rippling out to the rest of the world that is thirsty and hurting around us.  I hope this doesn't come across as harsh and judgmental. I am just trying to process it in a honest and raw way. I don't want to waste my one wild and precious life on anything short of joining God in the work of loving people and seeing them redeemed and made whole by Jesus. 

  David and I have long dreamed of the future and what our we call our " forever home " and have strategized and planned  over the years about what that might look like. But really our forever home is heaven and the greater reality, seen through the eyes of faith is that what needs to come first in our hearts is " the Kingdom of God" We to grow more and more in storing up our treasures there. I love how God is reshaping our dreams to that end.

For the few past years the Lord keeps bringing this verse  back and and singing it like a love song over me : " for the light makes everything visible. This is why it is said, " Awake, O sleeper, rise up from the dead, and Christ will give you light."

  He has paid the highest price. He has proven His faithful love for us. We refuse to sit on that and call it good there. We will praise him with our love for him by loving people, especially the ones who have no one, no voice. The ones who are most helpless and unseen. Because He sees them, He holds them and wants to use us as His hands in our city and our world to be a part of what it looks like to give them a hope and future. 

And now what next? Start small. Be faithful in the little things.  Jesus, David, my four children. To raise world changers, lead by example. Steward my time well. To learn greatness from Jesus, who was the servant to all. To be more intentional and disciplined than ever about where I am investing my life. 

Jesus teach us what it looks like to live loved.  I know what it means to be a slave to sin and to my self but You have forgiven me and set me free and the very least I can do is joyfully rise to pour out my life out in pursuit of others, knowing that your heart is the same for them. 

" You yourselves are a case study of what he does. At one time you all had your backs turned to God, thinking rebellious thoughts of him, giving him trouble every chance you got. But now, by giving himself completely to the cross, actually dying for you, Christ brought you over to God's side and put your lives together, whole and holy in His presence. You don't walk away from a gift like that. You stay grounded and steady in that bond of trust, constantly tuned in to the Message, careful not to be distracted or diverted. " 
Col.21-239 ( the Message) 

“Stay where you are. Find your own Calcutta. Find the sick, the suffering and the lonely right there where you are — in your own homes and in your own families, in your workplaces and in your schools. … You can find Calcutta all over the world, if you have the eyes to see. Everywhere, wherever you go, you find people who are unwanted, unloved, uncared for, just rejected by society — completely forgotten, completely left alone.” - Mother Teresa †