Thursday, August 18, 2016

Planting

I am often impacted by the number of analogies that I draw from gardening.

Roots: It's important to plant roots in the places you live, for one month or for years. Why?  It grounds you, it helps you to feel secure for that time, it helps you to grow so when you are transplanted, you have extra reserve from those roots to carry you forward.

Children:  If you have lots of children part of your daily life, you will undoubtedly have too much of something in one place and not enough in another.  Like 10 baby red cabbages coming up from the same hole.  Anyone can make this mistake because we secretly don't believe that a cabbage will come out of that tiny little seed, so we better plant extra.  Forgetting that the potential is in the seed, not in what you can see in the seed.  I need to give each of my children space and grace to grow in their own little style, and encourage them to do the same for others. 

Transplanting: 10 little red cabbages just can't grow in the same place.  They need to have their own fertilizer, soil, air, space, and sunshine. Transplanting is necessary.  Maybe that's why God brought me to Cameroon, then to Nigeria...I was where someone else needed to be, and in turn, God was letting me bear fruit in my new space.

Weeds:
Carpet grass is not welcome in my garden, but the fact is, it grows very well...better than anything else.  Negative thoughts, bad attitudes, and sin are not welcome in my heart, but they grow anyway, and without any attention, they will spread their little runners under the ground where they are unnoticed.  When the weed does show it's ugly head, it needs to not only be plucked out, but the entire root system with it.  Confession, repentance, and continual care is what the heart needs to grow good fruit!  Wow, it's a lot of work.

 Getting Dirty:
Nothing good comes from sitting on the side of the garden and hoping something will grow from the dirt.  We always put on our planting clothes, Mariama in her red suspenders and I in my Thai trousers, and we get dirty! In our spiritual lives, nothing comes from sitting passively in pews, living rooms, or conferences.  We need the "agon" in our deeper persons to go out and dig, plant, water, weed, and harvest.  Lately for us "getting dirty" has been putting our new prayer room to good use, realizing that the tiredness  or discouragement we feel needs to be addressed in the inner room...the quiet place with God.



Please pray for Daso as she's home visiting her family until September when she'll return for her second school year with us.  May she keep growing spiritually, and may we create an environment where she can sink the roots of her heart into God's love. 

Pray for Falaka, Daso's mom, as she raises her other four children to love God and walk with Jesus. 


Sweet Sunday in Holland, MI... part 1

Mariama squealed, giggled, and wriggled out of my arms upon seeing the children in the nursery.  No hiding the sheer joy she had as she barreled toward them with all the momentum a 1 year old can get on all fours. I thanked the women for giving me the opportunity to sit through a whole church service and went upstairs to join in the worship. Oh the worship!  I love the vibrancy of Nigeria, the mingling of languages, rhythms, colors, and spontaneous choreography that still, after 9 years, makes me exhale with delight and awe.

However, in Harderwyk Christian Reformed Church, the serene sounds, gentle movements, subtle harmonies, and rich lyrics of the words in my dialect of English allowed me to rest, guards down, spirit ready. It was the moment the Olympians catch their breath after an exhilarating sprint and look up to heaven with a sigh of pleasure.  The moment a husband and wife  finally get to the restaurant on a rare date night and are caught up in a loving gaze.  All of this prepared me for the poetic exhortation on the Holy Spirit and his working in our lives.  Pastor Joshua challenged a life of faith and grace without the acknowledgement of the continual conversation and awareness of the Spirit's part in living such a life.  He unfolded stories from Scripture and testimonies of congregants, drawing us together in a longing to reach in, reach out, wonder, receive, connect.

If that wasn't all enough, God sent me to the beach.  No, I didn't hear a voice, but a drive to take Mariama to the beach found me standing on the beach on Sunday afternoon looking for a sandy spot to call my own. I felt a little silly, having phoned five families to see if they wanted to join me on the beach on this scrumptious sunny Sunday! Just as I was ready to beeline for a free spot on the crowded beach, I heard a loud, "Christy Yoder!" My head jerked to see a pastor friend and his wife placing a cloth on the sand where she laid one of their 3-month old twin boys. I immediately felt loved by God and within the family of Christ as my friend introduced me to an adult MK who is an arborist. He knew one of my dear adult MK friends from my college days and my brother is an arborist!
We spent precious moments watching our children play in the sand, wading into the water, and sharing what life holds for us now.

What a sweet Sunday...but it only got richer! Read the next post!

A Sweet Sunday in Holland, MI...part 2

The sense of belonging, family, and intense joy caught me by surprise as I sat among people I'd met less than a half hour ago.  Their music filled the green picnic space, and memories flooded back of living in Mexico, of eating spicy, tasty delicacies at my favorite Latino restaurants over the years, of dancing to live bands at dimly lit clubs, but their was a difference with this experience.
This family had invited me, a stranger with braids and a baby on her hip, into their weekly tradition of fellowship, and true communion is what I felt.  There was no need to pretend or protect.  They learned my story, and I learned some of theirs. I felt loved and welcomed. What a gift. What a rare treasure God had added to the blessings of this Sunday.
They had made cherry delight!  This is our family birthday tradition...I've never known anyone else to make it. It was August 14, the day before my birthday.
One woman, after asking about my experience of having a baby in Nigeria, shared that she has recently moved to Holland with her husband, a seminarian at Western Theological Seminary.  He had studied sound design as his undergrad, and I invited them to join our team to record indigenous music in Nigeria.  I do hope to see them there some day.  But if I don't, I know I found fellow servants, working on their section of "the wall" as those in Nehemiah did.  Loving those in their midst and sharing God's heart of hospitality with their world.  They gave me hope for community, for family that creates family and builds the kingdom.
Eventually we got around to playing volleyball (the original reason I had approached them), but I had forgotten what had brought me to these dear people, because what I think I really sought had already been deeply satisfied.  I felt cared for and known.   God did that, and he used them...and my pastor friend on this sweet Sunday.

The young woman with the one-year-old baby went to my high school and college...graduating 10 years after me.  The family sent her and her husband to get me after I told them I'd come back later to play volleyball. 
Mariama fell sleep and was cared for by the family while I played volleyball when she woke up.


Six Years of Amazing

A larming . Six years ago I held my firstborn in my arms and wept with unfettered joy.  I went home with my mother two hours later to my f...