Broken and Filled

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This week I have been asking myself: Can a heart be broken and filled at the same time? Not broken, then filled. But simultaneously broken, breaking and filled. How can it? Doesn’t whatever is doing the filling seep through the cracks made by the breaking?

I have visited several orphan feeding programs in Zambia this week. And the moments I have spent at each were so full that I can’t seem to recover. Each day I have felt broken apart from all I have seen. Broken apart by the suffering.  Most of these children eat once a day. It is not enough.  But then, I am filled by the life that bursts out of them anyway.  So much life packed into so little space. Not physical space, but space of time. Every moment filled to capacity, nearly exploding. Is it just that it is different and so my eyes struggle to take it in? Is it that suffering expands life somehow, making it fuller, more palpable?

I don’t have many words, and none at all that are profound, so, for now, I am relying on pictures to tell the story for me.

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These women are volunteers for a church that feeds orphans. They are preparing the plates.

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This sweet little girl came for food.

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This rooster walks around one of the churches.

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This little girl came for food.

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The roof blew off this house where a widow with four kids lived.

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This is a small restaurant between Lusaka and Ndola called the Fig Tree. It has a trampoline on its property.

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At this church, there are several dogs who have been dropped off. It is so hot, so they sleep in the shade.

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This is Given. I fell in love with her as soon as I saw her.

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These ladies are making nshima, sausage, and cabbage for the orphans.

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Given wanted to hold hands.

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Time to eat!

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400 church leaders kneeling at the end of the Global Leadership Summit in Ndola thanking God for the privilege of being invited to be a part of building Christ’s gathering — the church.

 

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Life This Week

imageThis week I will be in Lusaka and Ndola, Zambia.  I arrived in Africa on Saturday morning.  Unlike my last two trips, I am very homesick already. I am looking forward to my time and it will be good to see dear friends.  But I am really struggling with the desire to go home.  Who knows why it is so strong but I’m praying God uses this time to continue conforming me into the image of Christ. I have been praying nearly constantly for courage and strength. It is quite stunning to be in Africa. I still can’t get over it. God blows my mind. Enough rambling. This week:

I’m praying for courage and strength and health.

I’m praying God will use me in whatever way brings him glory.

I’m thanking God for the opportunities he has given. Who would have ever thought?

I’m praying for my sweet girl back home that she feels loved and secure.

I’m trusting I will encounter God today…and every day.

Life This Week

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My trip to South Africa and Zambia is upon me now. This is my third trip to Africa, yet in some ways it feels like the first. I know more what to expect, but the fears, anxieties, and uncertainties about the travel are no different. The trip is no less significant in its impact on me than it was the first time. God is faithful to grow me on this trip, when I am out of my comfort zone, totally reliant on him and those he places on my path. In quiet moments, my stomach tightens at the thought of relying totally on God. I wish it came more easily, but it is always a struggle. There is only so much letting go I can do in the routine of my life because I know how to manage things. I operate much of the time (knowingly or not) under the illusion that I control my circumstances. On a trip across the world, there is no such illusion, all control, imagined or otherwise, is stripped away. This week, I am in prayer and surrender:

I’m praying. Father, keep me safe. Keep my sweet girl safe and feeling loved while I am gone. Make the skies smooth. Defend my body against sickness and ailments. Guard my heart against fear and anxiety. Show me beautiful things, new things about who you are. Make my time fully glorifying to you. Bring me home safe, filled with your love, aware of your character, and quick to give you thanks and praise.

I’m asking for prayer. Please pray for me, especially in the moments the Holy Spirit brings me to mind. You won’t know why, but I will need you to carry me into God’s presence in that very moment.

I’m relying on God’s promises. In particular, I’m holding onto this one: “Do not be anxious, but in everything by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7.

I will be writing as much as I can when I am gone because I know I won’t be able to help it, God will show me amazing moments, introduce me to beautiful faces, and place in me a deeper understanding of his love and provision.

What does your week look like?

Life This Week

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Today in my Scripture reading, I read Colossians 3:1-17 and realized immediately that I needed to memorize these verses. They are powerful, and convicting, and hopeful. I want to know them deep in my soul. As I read these verses aloud several times, these are the phrases that I circled or underlined with my pencil, the ones that jumped off the page or cut me just a little:

“Think about the things of heaven…” (v. 2)

“[Y]our real life is hidden with Christ in God.” (v. 3)

“lurking within you…” (v. 5)

“Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him.” (v. 10)

“he lives in all of us.” (v. 11)

“Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you.” (v. 13)

“And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts.” (v. 15)

“And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.” (v. 17)

I’ll need to take in this Scripture in chunks. Here’s how I’ll do it with the first four verses and then will follow the same pattern for the remaining 13 verses:

I’m reading verses 1-4 aloud three times today and tomorrow. Reading Scripture aloud helps me take it in and not skip over any words. It helps me identify which words trip me up and allows me to hear what words I naturally stress based on the sentence structure. One of the times I read it aloud, I will personalize it (“Since I have been raised to new life with Christ, set my sights on the realities of heaven…”) to feel its import on my life.

I’m asking questions. Each sentence in these verses is full of meaning and there are several phrases that I don’t necessarily understand. For example, the first sentence includes, “the realities of heaven,” and the second sentence refers to “the things of heaven.” To set my eyes and thoughts on these “things” I need to understand what they are. So, I’m turning back to Jesus’ words about what the “kingdom of heaven” is like, looking through Scripture for other references to “heaven,” and reading some commentaries to see what others have said.

I’m praying. I am asking God to show me what he wants me to understand about him from this passage and how I can apply it on a daily basis as I walk in the world.

I’m writing down each verse on one of my memory cards. I carry around these colorful cards on a ring and write down Scripture I want to know or memorize. I’ll start with the first four verses, one sentence per card. I will read through them as I notice them throughout my day and practice repeating them by memory.

What does your week look like?

Is there a particular passage of Scripture you could memorize this week? How will you do it?