Saturday, March 21, 2015

Sharing the Hut

We have friends staying with us from Zambia. And that feels amazing, mostly because we love our friends Jacob and Libby, and they're here sharing our patio instead of passing through our Facebook feed from across the globe. But there are other reasons it feels good, too. I feel my imagination stretch as we chat about daily life, and I envision the downpour of rainy season and the bustle of Zambian traffic, packed with minibuses and pedestrians and bikes. 

Also, it's been a few years since we've had a home that comfortably houses guests. Most of our homes in this city have been either small or under renovation. We've missed our life in Montgomery, where a young church intern lived in our upstairs, and the downstairs guest room rotated occupation between visiting friends, family, and missionaries we'd sometimes never met. 

Back then, our house was always full. I used to call my mama and complain about the number of events I had to clean up for each week: Sunday night small group, a dinner party on the weekend, a prayer meeting on a weeknight, the occasional baby shower. But maybe a part of me was calling my mama to brag; our home overflowed with friends.  

I've thought a lot lately about hospitality. We don't open our home much these days because we're in a rental that looks like the Brady Bunch set. But it has a spacious bricked patio and an open kitchen. By worldwide standards, our dated home is lavish. I picture the huts Jacob and Libby visit in Zambia, where there's no electricity or clean water, and I know we're squandering the gift of a home that God gave us to share. 

I spent the first twenty-four hours of Jacob and Libby's visit this week fussing over the temperature of the guest bedroom and obsessing over shower quality.  Finally, Libby looked me in the eye and said, "Rachel. We live in Africa."  Point taken. Only, it took the exact statement from Jacob an hour later to shut me up

So I'm thankful to have friends in our imperfect home. I have to start somewhere. Besides, no friends will be clucking their tongues at our absent rug or unflattering interior paint.  To have a house full of friends again? That makes this Brady Bunch hut of ours into a home. 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Do Something for Christ... Even if It Might Go Terribly!

I'm dusting off the old blog today because God has impressed something so strongly on my heart, and I hope to encourage you with it.

Christians, DO SOMETHING today for God.

Last week I was in the car with my friend Perry, and she said something that stuck with me.  We were talking about Jesus and she said, "I'm just so tired of talking and so ready to DO SOMETHING."

Her statement shocked (and convicted) me, because Perry IS a doer.  Already.  She and her husband have some incredible testimonies about various ways they've quietly DONE for others, but you wouldn't know it about them right away because they keep their generosity private and don't ask for human praise.

But recently, one of their good deeds was more public than usual.

The short story:
Perry's husband Peyton is a "mentor" through a faith-based program.  He mentors a remarkable 18 year old college freshman named Demetrius.  Recently, Demetrius confided to Peyton that he'd found a prepaid WalMart Visa card in the parking lot at his work, and scanned the balance to find over $10,000 on the card.  Demetrius could have used that money, but he did an incredibly honest thing and turned the card in to his local WalMart.

Peyton was so proud of Demetrius.  So Peyton set up a Go Fund Me account, hoping to reward and encourage Demetrius' character, and help him buy a working car.  Peyton only told Demetrius about the account after he found out that Demetrius had begun car shopping.

It is a simple, sweet, uplifting story about a young man of character, and about our friends who are willing to JUST DO SOMETHING to act for Jesus.

the local news (which friends kindly got involved to raise awareness/fund for the Go Fund Me account) has since taken a different spin on the story.

And now, people are questioning Demetrius' character, as well as Peyton and Perry's character.

The young man Peyton was hoping to encourage is now being accused as a scam artist.  It's just not true.  I'm not sure how WalMart Visa's work, or whether the WalMart employee Demetrius returned the card to pocketed it, or whether the card that Demetrius found was a fake.  But the bottom line is this: Demetrius thought he had $10,000 in hand, with no one watching to see what he'd do with it.  And yet, he did the right thing.

Which brings me to my point.

One reason Christians so often fail to JUST DO SOMETHING for Jesus is because we fear the repercussions.  Peyton and Perry sure didn't expect this storm to hit, simply because they wanted to encourage their friend.

So what's the answer?
Mother Teresa said it best:

People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered.
Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind,
people may accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Be kind anyway.
If you are successful,
you will win some false friends and some true enemies.
Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and frank,
people may cheat you.
Be honest and frank anyway.
What you spend years building,
someone could destroy overnight.
Build anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness,
they may be jealous.
Be happy anyway.
The good you do today,
people will often forget tomorrow.
Do good anyway.
Give the world the best you have,
and it may never be enough.
Give the best you've got anyway.
You see,
in the final analysis it is between you and God;
it was never between you and them anyway.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

31 Years

I'm 31 today.
When I was young, I obsessed over my future.  I fantasized about a crystal ball that could show me glimpses of the life to come.  What would young Rachel have thought if she could have seen the life I now live?

Would I have laughed aloud at the rolls on baby Owen's arms...

...the courage Amelia musters at the playground...

... the amount of joy a milkshake brings to sweet Caroline?

Thank you God, for 31 years that led to this!

Don't want to miss a new post?
Click here to have each new post delivered to your inbox.
Click here to subscribe to the RSS feed.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Injustice of Grace

I've just had a deep, hard, soul-cleansing cry after reading about acquaintances of ours still dealing with grief over the death of their child. 

Meanwhile, my chubby three month old son nuzzles against me, nursing as I read.  He's falling asleep quickly, rubbing the tufted rolls of his wrists across heavy eyelids. I do not deserve this grace. 

Across the hall, Amelia cries out from a deep sleep. "Mommy!" We've had a tough time lately. Her emotions at 3 mimick what I didn't expect until 13. I've never felt so rejected. But now, she calls for me. Finds comfort in my lap. I lay her down, placing blankets under her chin and kisses across her cheeks.  And I don't deserve this grace. 

I think of friends still waiting in hard places. I don't even know what to say to them. I feel like I've abandoned them, the empty-handed, while I clutch greedily my children, my husband, my blessings.

I have so much more than I deserve. 

Thank you, God, for the strange, unexplainable graces You lavished on me, an ingrate. There is no justice to it at all. 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Weary Mama, Loved by God

I stay tired these days. Many of you are nodding your head smiling, because you know I've had a third child, and you know the sweet blessings of God sometimes feel awfully heavy when you forget Who's carrying them... Or, heck... Sometimes they exhaust us even when our eyes are firmly on God. Because yes, God is our rest, but on this earth we don't get to fully experience all His gifts like we will in Heaven. So yes, on earth I lust for 5 hours of consecutive sleep, but I'm actually much more desperate for the rest that comes from His promises. 

(Yet if you stick a Bible and a pillow in front of me these days, I'm ashamed to say I'll grab the pillow most often. Sigh.)

I'm rambling. 

Recently, I've been brainstorming ways to bring in some income while still staying with my precious children. And the one thing that irks me about it is that I feel CALLED to glorify God, especially through words and writing. I'm not saying "ministry writing" has to be where I make my money. I remember some apostles who were CALLED to the gospel but made and sold tents on the side. I need to figure out my tent making, and this blog isn't it. But in brainstorming income ideas, I keep thinking about my callings... And my desire to encourage you. 

So hi.
I'm tired too. Just like you. 
Although our struggles are different than mine. Maybe yours are emotional, relational, financial, spiritual... Usually it's a mix of a lot of these, isn't it?

You may not feel like you have much to offer right now. I certainly feel wrung out, limp, exhausted, and powerless. 

But that's not the truth of who we are. 

We have the power of the resurrected Christ in us. 

I had to remind myself of that tonight. And I really wanted to also remind you.