Thursday, May 30, 2013

Growing Up

Tryn is turning 7 next week. Oh my goodness. Most days I feel like I am not old enough to have a 7 year old. I mean, really, it's easy to have babies who don't have many serious thoughts for themselves. They don't ask questions like, "How can Jesus be in every persons heart when he is only one person?" WELL. How am I supposed to explain the Trinity to a 7 year old when I don't fully understand it myself?!

Often I get nervous about my kids getting older. I don't know how to have older kids, and thinking about them being older and the things that I might have to deal with...well, then I just want them to stay the age they are right now and never grow up.

And then I realize other things about them getting older. Like a friend recently posted on Facebook about going on a 12 mile run with her son and I thought that it will be so much fun if I can go on runs with my kids someday. I can't wait for that...but they will need to be older first. And, honestly, I am excited about having girls and the possibilities of mother/daughter trips and going shopping for the perfect outfit together. But they need to get older first.

Then there are moments like church the other night. Tryn's program was canceled and so she was with me the entire service. Steve, of course, was leading worship and he had picked a song that we listen to regularly around here. It's called I Am Set Free by All Sons and Daughters.

I Am Set Free

You broke my chains of sin and shame and you covered me with grace.
You mend my life with your holy fire
You cover me with grace.
You are the hand that reaches out to save

I am set free oh oh oh oh
It is for freedom that i am set free.

And yes Lord, we are grateful for Your Grace and for Your Love.

You are the hand that reaches out to save.

I am set free oh oh oh oh
It is for freedom that i am set free

It was a newer song for most everyone at church and so people were not singing out, but Tryn and I listen to this song a lot. As a hush settled over the sanctuary because of the unfamiliar song I noticed Tryn standing next to me. I was holding her hand but her eyes were straight forward and hers was the only other voice I could hear besides mine. Just her and me singing along with the musicians, "I am set free oh oh oh oh..." She was singing with all her heart in a strong, pure, clear voice. It was beautiful. Because she is older we were able to stand and sing to Jesus together in a way that we never have before.

And I realized I am thankful and excited that she is growing up because she is becoming beautiful in a whole new way. I can't wait for what will come next. Bring on boys, crushes, dating, and the teenage years if it means we also get to have more moments like we did Sunday night, because times like that...those are priceless.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Pictures of the Kids!

I was realizing lately that I haven't posted pictures of my kids on my blog for an embarrassingly long amount of time. Whoops. I didn't actually even take these, I came across them on my camera tonight while I was editing for a client. They are hilarious. These next three are even blurry, but you'll understand why I posted them...and they are action shots after all. :)

And then there is Kye, playing with the girls. Story of his life. He needs some more little guy friends. Haha!

So, that's all. Just wanted to post some kiddo pictures for the mom's and grandma's. And me. :)

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Let the Children Come

I mentioned the water truck day, one of the days that we went into Cite Soleil. It was crazy to be in such a dangerous place and even more crazy to realize the way that people were living and what poverty really looks like. People can really live without running water? They can really live amongst so much trash and filth? They can really live with so little? Yes. They can. However, that is not what sticks out to me the most from that day.

A few years ago I was at a retreat where a friend spoke, challenging us to really try to see people the same way that Jesus sees them. He spoke of how we interact with people all day long, from standing in line at the grocery store, to passing someone on the sidewalk, to being noticed by another driver on the road, to our kids, or spouse, or friends. We are constantly interacting with other human beings, and what if we actually started to look at them with the same lens of love that Jesus uses? I can’t even fully grasp the overwhelming and intense love of Jesus, but from that day forward it hasn’t stopped me from trying.

In many situations, especially the times when I am getting frustrated with someone or a person is being unlovely towards me, I try to stop and think, “How would Jesus feel about this person right now?” Or in tough situations I think, “This is not how Jesus would respond. What would he say instead?” I tell you what, it has changed me.Of course, I am no expert at “being Jesus” but I can’t tell you the number of times thinking along these lines has changed my heart towards someone. It is humbling to realize how many icky thoughts I can think about people and about how self serving I can really be. When I try to see someone like Jesus would see them, my heart always crumbles a little bit more. 

So, at the second water truck stop of the day last Friday the thought just popped into my head, as it so often does, “I wonder what Jesus would be doing if he were here right now?” And you know what? For the very first time in my life I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that he would be standing right beside me doing the very thing that I was doing. In fact, when I realized that I almost felt as if I could see Jesus out of the corner of my eye. If I turned my head just fast enough, maybe, just maybe I would catch a glimpse of him. 

There amongst filthy and unclothed humanity I had a holy moment. 

I couldn’t understand this for awhile. I think we can be like Jesus wherever and whenever. Standing in 100 degree weather in Haiti holding dirty children and handing out water is not the only way to be like Jesus. Yes, Jesus does say in Matthew 25, 

35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

While this passage took on an entirely whole new meaning to me in Haiti, providing people with basic needs when you have plenty and they are in want is...well, it is a very humbling experience. However, Jesus also doesn’t say, “This is the only way to be like me.” So I have been mulling over this for a week now. Why, in that particular moment, did it seems so clear to me?

I think I figured it out today. It wasn’t because of what I was doing, it was because of how I was doing it. See, if I had run across one of those kids standing naked and dirty down at the end of my block, I probably would have called 911 so that someone could come and help me find her parents. I did actually do that once when I was living in North Minneapolis. I wouldn’t have picked up anybody’s naked child but my own, and especially not one with sores on her legs. I would have held her at arm’s length, if I had touched her, or him, at all. But while I was standing there in Cite Soleil I didn’t just let kids come up to me. I reached out to them. I picked them up. I held them close, and hugged them, and kissed their cheeks, and loved them with all the love that I had to offer in that moment. And that was the difference. It was me. It was my heart. 

I think that every time Jesus encountered someone, whether they were in desperate need or not, he reached out to them and loved them with all the love that he had to offer. He never cared if they were dirty. He never cared if they were unlovely. He never cared if they were clothed. He never cared if they were diseased. In that moment last week it was so clear to because I was able to put myself aside for awhile and just love some kids who so desperately needed to be loved. I wasn't thinking about myself. I wasn't asking or hoping for anything in return. I was just pouring out what I had to offer, love. I got to love those kids like Jesus would have loved them if he had been standing next to me, and that love mattered to them. I got to see those precious babies through his eyes. And they were oh so beautiful.

Thursday, May 16, 2013


I just spent several days in Haiti with an organization called Healing Haiti and now that I finally have time to sit down and write something I feel at a loss for words.

Being back at in Robbinsdale has been just a shock to my brain. For all the trips I've taken and the missions experiences that I have had, I don't think I've ever had such culture shock coming home. I've also never had my heart broken so many times in one week. I can't even count the number of times I have cried since last Tuesday. And then how to answer the simple question, "How was it?" 

Well, the best answer I have to that is that it was simply heartbreaking. 

When Steve and I were once planning to be missionaries to Poland a missions pastor and friend of ours said something along the lines of, "How can I give you that much money for a car and a washer and dryer when that much money would literally save lives in Haiti and Africa? If you can give me a good reason I'll give you the money, otherwise I'm going to use it to save some lives." We didn't have a good answer at the time and, to be honest, I didn't truly understand the full meaning of what he was saying. Yes, the souls in Poland need Jesus just as much as the souls do in Haiti, and could he really be saying that the money was better spent in Haiti? 

That was a good 7 or 8 years ago and it was taken me this long and a trip to Haiti to understand. 

There really are no words or pictures that can accurately describe what it is like to look at a tent city where 100+ people live in an area the size of my yard in makeshift homes made of pieces of tin, tarp, and bedsheets. Rocks and bricks hold the roof from blowing away and there is no running water and no toilets. Add to this picture a ground that is covered in trash and children who are only partially or maybe not clothed at all. There are tent cities that stretch on for blocks and miles. 

I can't tell you what it is like to stand on the sacred ground of a mass grave where 300,000+ bodies were dumped by truckloads after the earthquake a few years ago. There was no room to bury them all. Every single Haitian can tell you the exact date of the earthquake and what they were doing when it happened. One guy I met was in a school with 300 other students. He left the building to get a drink of water and when he stepped outside the earthquake shook the building and everyone in it died, he was the only one who survived. 

These pictures don't describe what it is like to hug someone who should get hugged every day, several times a day, and doesn't. I hugged hundreds of kids who should know the love of a mother every single day and they don't. They are hugged and loved by the occasional white American who stops into their lives for an hour or so...I tried to make each hug count as much as possible. But I know that hugging my own children once or twice a day is not enough for them, and it's not enough for Haitian orphans either.

Cite Soleil is one of the most poor and dangerous places in the world and I went there last Wednesday to deliver water to its residents. They have no access to water, no toilets, and an estimated 400,000 people live in area smaller than North Minneapolis. We did three water truck runs that day, to three different areas of Cite Soleil. When we drove up to the first place my new friend Katie turned to me with tears in her eyes and said, "I don't think I can do this, tell me something good." I was silent and tears sprung into my eyes, I had nothing good to tell her. When I stepped off the truck a little girl older but smaller than my son leaped into my arms and would not let me put her down the entire time we were there. I held her and hugged her and tried not to cry. Before we left that water stop we took a little walk out onto a peninsula. Cite Soleil has, ironically, the beautiful turquoise Bahamas looking ocean at it's western edge. We walked out close enough to touch the salty water, but I didn't dare. The peninsula was made up of layers of mud, garbage, and manure. The kids who followed us out there walked over broken glass with their bare feet and didn't even flinch. I carefully picked my way over earth that was really more trash than dirt.Once we reached an open space we stood in a circle with all the children and sang, "God is so good, he's so good, he's so good." And the children sang, laughed, and danced with joy. And I tried not to sit down and sob.

I could tell you of so many other moments just like that where my mind was blown away and my heart ripped open, but I can't right now. Like I said, I've cried so much this past week already. All I can say is that I am glad that our friend took the money and sent it to Haiti. Because just maybe I saw some people, some precious souls who have no hope and who still need a chance to hear about Jesus, who were still alive because of his great heart.