Serve Small

It starts with a smile.

To look someone straight in the eyes, see into their life, and welcome them to yours.

It’s a simple hello and follows with an honest ask: “How are you?” Then, taking the time to look and see as they tell you. You remember what they said, follow up with another question, ask them again about it next time you two run into each other.

Something so small, which may at first be perceived as insignificant, quite possibly makes all the difference in the world.

Hospitality reaches beyond our homes—it’s bred in the tiny details of the day. Opening doors, sharing a smile, complimenting a jacket or eye color. It’s spreading wide our hearts to all those we rub shoulders with throughout the day. It is seeing someone—really seeing—with a deep soul-eyed stare. Noticing the person—not the problem, not the situation—but deciding to invest care into the stranger, approach them as someone created in God’s image and sharing in their value.

Listening instead of lecturing.

It’s the little things that make a person feel seen, set apart, welcomed and connected, embraced right where they are, as they are, in that moment.

 

 

**I’m delighted to be over visiting Leslie Verner at Scraping Raisens blog today. Read the rest of my post here, then stick around and read some of her work!

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Forgotten No More

Soft waves lap the shore. Beyond into the open water, it is calm, hardly a ripple. Clear blue across the sky, light wisps of clouds swirl above.

There is the tiny whisper of wind across my skin, teasing my shirt. And the serene slide of wave to sand. Other than that, mostly silence.

Here is the quiet, solitude and line of trees angled on the bluff. Beautiful, restful. I walk and walk, correcting my breathing to slow to the cadence of the tranquil morning.

But they follow me, these stories of forgotten children.

Hop into my heart and come along for the ride. The cries, screams of sorrow, haunted eyes and lips refusing to speak of inhumane tragedies they’ve been forced to witness. Walking eight miles a day to flee the horror of home and find respite in an unfamiliar town for the night, away from the fighting and mutilation and the fear-infested streets where many are forced to make their bed. Their young years have lived far too much unimaginable pain.

This should not be.

Unrest and sleepless nights shaken in fear and sorrow. This should not be anyone’s reality. And yet they still hope. Hope, the elusive and mysterious element that buoys the heart and gets them through one more day.

 

I remember the poem by e.e. cummings and hoist it like a flag across my mantra:

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in

my heart)i am never without it(anywhere

i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done

by only me is your doing,my darling)

 

I carry you with my, my darlings, I carry your hearts with me in my own. Wherever I go. Tucked in the safe pocket of my heart.

At work, in my air-conditioned café, frothing milk for a latte, stringing words upon a page, piling lettuce, cheese and carrots in my salad container at the grocery store—they are always there. Close. Beating within my heart. Their smiles are my own.

It feels good to be so connected.

I cannot forget their faces, their stories, their heart’s cries and desire for love. Can a mother forget her child? Even closer, the LORD God remembers, engraves on the palm of His hands. They are not forgotten. Not for one moment.

And not for a moment must we forget, either. It is our heart’s charge to break and wring for the ones the world overlooks and disdains, does not understand with eyes aglow with agape. Once we have been bathed in love, we see the tired and undeserved who have been waiting for us. Waiting to know their lives have value and they have a creator God who loves them and embraces them into His family.

Break my heart for what breaks Yours. Pour me out to the hurting and displaced, for whom hopelessness hangs heavy upon their hearts. Let me lift the yoke from their shoulders, or, at least allow me to slip the yoke to mine and shift the weight so they won’t carry the burden alone.

 

It is a beautiful morning. Clean air, clear sky. It is a good day to go about my Father’s business.

I am coming, little ones, I am coming. You may already be with me now, but there is so much more that I will bring for you. Do not be afraid. Dawn is here. Light has come. You are forgotten no more.  Love always makes a way.

 

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Want to help make a way with me for these forgotten children? More to come in the months ahead (hopefully!), but for the time being, consider partnering with Saving Grace Children’s Village to give street children a place to live and heal and grow.

 

 

Coming Alive For Christ

Hutha is a dead man come alive who risks all for the sake of Christ.

The FCA India leader holds tight to the words of Jeremiah 1:5: Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”

God set Hutha apart to be a messenger to the nations, and he enthusiastically follows the call. After all, if it were not for Jehovah Rapha, he would not be touching the lives of hundreds of villagers throughout his country by his story and a soccer ball.

As he began to know God in 2004, Hutha fell mentally ill in a spiritual attack. While he prayed for healing, his village ostracized him, thinking he was drunk or wild, calling him “Mental Man” and refusing to use his real name.

He remained in a hospital for one year.

His family, steeped in black magic and the Hindu culture, sought help from witch doctors, who suggested they use the blood of a chicken as sacrifice. Hutha refused and said he would rather die in the name of Jesus.

 

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It is an absolute privilege to share this incredible story of my good friend and spiritual role model, Hutha, over at FCA.org. Please click the link to read the miraculous journey of this leader.

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The God of healing is restoring hearts through sport, and there is even more of His work to be done. The vastness of Hutha’s region in India requires resources to travel and gas to power Hutha’s motorcycle. Please pray for volunteers to join Hutha in his work, and for finances to be able to go where God sends him across the region.

Click here to support Hutha’s ministry, and visit fcaworld.org to learn more about what FCA is doing in India.

Slow Breath, Sting of Soul

I take a slow, steady breath. Close my eyes, lean in to the stillness. Open them again to a soft coat of clouds covering a gentle blue sky. I sit on the front porch in my blue-painted chair with brightly colored cushion, potted plants of mums and bluebells at my feet along the walkway. Songs of sparrows surround the air, pale coolness of autumn touching my skin, turning maple leaves to coral and amber.

It is a quiet morning, and all is still on my sleepy street.

But the horrified cries of terror and grief of a people in pain rings in my ears.

Brothers, sisters, fathers, sons, struck down in front of family. Burned alive, beheaded, callous execution by cruel evil. Howls for pardon, knees sunk low in the grass to be set free.

I cannot get away from their suffering, even when the scene in which I sit now looks completely opposite of their reality.

For weeks, I had been hearing of the refugees flooding into Bangladesh seeking asylum from the horrors at home. The persecuted Rohingya, a Muslim minority in Buddhist-filled Myanmar, are often described as the “the world’s most persecuted minority” (Aljazeera.com). They’ve been targeted, tortured and slaughtered by government soldiers in Myanmar. But I only listened with half understanding.

Until I came across an article in The New York Times that ran on Wednesday, regaling the unimaginable atrocities up close. Now, it was personal. Now, there were names.

Rajuma, the woman who told her tale without tears, so traumatized her body would no longer recognize the pain in self-protection. Her baby, ripped from her arms and tossed in a fire.

Jesus Christ.

The plea in my voice for Him who holds the world when no other prayer will do.

This is reality. Hard to hear as I watch the American flag hooked to my front porch pillar rustle smooth in the light breeze, its fabric soft casting smooth sound, such freedom in the stripes and stars. I pray I never take for granted. I pray I could make my way to this woman and simply sit with her hand in mine, human touch that tells she is not alone.

We who clutch our lattes close and gripe when the wait gets too long, do we realize the hurting hearts that cry for comfort? Those who have left all they’ve known and wander cramped camps where children grapple for a pair of jeans?

My heart can’t take the hurt, the atrocities without answers. But bleed it must, for we are not called to comfort, but compassion. I pause and let the wails of the Rohingya bowl me over. I weep, and I plead to God. And I take their lives as my own and own up to where I have fallen complacent. The weight of the world is burden no one can handle. It is reserved for God to handle. There are no words, only deep howls of injustice and raw longing for this world to be made right.

Rohingya women waiting for food. Photo courtesy from SERGEY PONOMAREV FOR THE NEW YORK TIMES

Though Rajuma and others like her arrive in Bangladesh with nothing but the clothes on their skin and perhaps a small bag of belongings, they do not go alone. I may be far across oceans, but I hold them in my heart and do what little I can to make their voices heard, share their stories. We need to remember that we are not meant to walk through this life without one another.

 

But bleed it must, for we are not called to comfort, but compassion.  @SRennAwake http://bit.ly/2gbjxvZ

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The songbirds whistle their melodies from the crabapple tree at the edge of my hard, its leaves turning gold at the edges. Another slow breath, sting of soul. God Almighty, this world is beautiful. Even in the broken, the strained, the dank pockets of pain, there is room enough for light to stream through. There is hope again at crossing borders to lend a hand to one that’s been waiting for this offering, been waiting to grab hold.

The world is wide enough for us all to lean in close.

 

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Read The New York Times article on the Rohingya refugees here.

 

Please consider helping the Rohingya refugees, providing food, shelter, medicine, or just meeting immediate needs. #SaveTheRohingya