Monday, October 16, 2017

The Benediction

God speaks a benediction over us.  Scripture itself echoes his love and affirmation and blessing.  Despite the knowledge of this, there is a longing in my heart to hear the affirmation of Scripture spoken right to me, in an audible voice.  I don’t know if I even knew that reality until, with his hands on our shoulders, Ben Patterson spoke a benediction over me and my husband, Scripture being spoken into the deep places, the longing places.  
No only did Ben and Loretta send us out with a blessing, but the attention and love poured on us while in their home gave me a sense of God’s love and presence in a new way.   They wanted to hear what had happened to us, where we are now, and get our news in the future.  They wanted to stay connected.  I so highly respect this couple, I wasn’t sure I’d say the right things while with them, but their unbridled acceptance melted those self conscious jitters.  

May we be speakers of blessing, in our very attention of those around us, those who “show up” in our lives unexpectedly.  May those who spend time with us know that the longings of our hearts is to know them and for them to share the beauty of their story and experience…sending them out with a blessing and the strength that comes from being known and loved.

Thank You for Your Persistence

“Hello, this is the Patterson’s, please leave a message!” the familiar, welcoming voice spoke for the third time.  For the third time we left the message.  “We’re in town, we’d love to see you, give us a call.”  This time, though, we were sitting outside the Patterson’s house, listening to the phone ring.  I was looking through the open screened widow at a beautiful art piece of Ben Patterson with his hand raised, a gathering of students responding with arms raised and the unseen angels portrayed in the rafters of Dimnet Chapel of Hope College where Ben was chaplain for three of my four years. Yes, I was stalking my college chaplain outside his house in California.  I had called his office, and, after seeing his son, who attended our rival high school, the secretary called me back and said, “He’s on his way home, and so is Loretta.”  I didn’t know what they’d think of me…14 years after graduating college, intruding on their lives.  I felt silly.
Then Loretta Patterson burst through the door, with elation written on her face and gathered my pregnant self in her arms in singing laughter, giving me a solid hug.  She held me at arms length and eyes beaming declared, “You’re beautiful.”  A much more subdued, but equally warm welcome came from Ben as he arrived, briefcase in hand and said, “Hi Christy!” 
As we left, an hour later, after sharing a bit of our journeys together, Ben said, “Thank you for your persistence.” I responded jokingly, “Maybe persistence is my spiritual gift.”  We took a picture, and got into the car.   

As we pulled away, I said to Zach, “I don’t actually think persistence is my spiritual gift…I don’t persist very well in prayer.”  In wisdom he responded, “Maybe it is…you just need to start using it in prayer.” 

May God help me to be a persistent person in prayer, as I am determined in so many other areas of my life.   May I want to see Him so much that I seek him out, call many times, go to his place, look in his “windows”, and wait for him to show up!

Da Kai Na!

Learning to climb!
"Da Kai Na!" (By myself!) is a common phrase in our home these days. I have heard it to be said that 2-year-olds are fiercely independent.  Well, our Mariama, at 2 years 3 months, is no exception.  Today as we boarded yet another plane, with her boarding pass in hand, she said, “Bye!” to us and headed to the front of the line as everyone greeted her happily.  When she saw we were approaching, she said, “I’ll do it myself! Bye! Bye!” As she pushed her daddy back. She didn’t want Daddy following too closely behind her as she searched for row 36 (the only open seats on the plane). 
Mariama makes her way to row 36
It is striking to me, however, that her independence comes to a screeching halt…literally…when she finds she can’t do it by herself!  “Mommy, help me!” She cries in desperation, as though I abandoned her while she climbed Everest in a snow storm.
A lego tower of unusual size.
As I experience this phenomenon multiple times a day, a picture of myself has been sketched in my mind.  I set out to do some impossible task, which my experience or giftings have not yet equipped me to do…like start a program for girls or raise a 9-year-old, and I suddenly come to that despairing moment where I cry out in frustration at my patient Father who wanted me to learn of his enduring wisdom and presence by allowing me to do my best so he could demonstrate his.  Oh, and then, I get the immense pleasure of watching him work, all the more delighted in his skillful handiwork because I have tried and seen how impossible the task is.

Praise God for his Fatherly wisdom, and pray that this fiercely independent 35-year-old will remember to keep crying out so she can experience Him at work. 

Like mother like daughter!

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Come...I like you

"What do you notice about the father in this story?" the speaker asked after telling the story of the prodigal son.
"I don't dare get close enough to the Father to notice him..." I found myself thinking sadly.

To me, those steps back home, over the hills, after squandering precious days away from the father looked something like reconnecting with a friend I haven't seen in a long time.

Look them up on facebook to see what they've been up to.
Send them a message and see if they respond.
Find out where they are and get contact info.
Call or go visit.
Small talk for the first hour.
Then get into the real stuff.

Or, with God...

Try to get glimpses of him and what he's doing around me.
Shoot some prayers up and see if I feel he's listening or sends me a message through his Word.
Ask him where hs'e at and if we can get back in contact...that is, if he has time, if he wants to, if I'm not imposing....
Make a little more effort to be with him.
Do some light devotionals to get myself in tune with his Spirit.
Then dive into the real deal of intimate relationship...

I feel that day when I disparagingly realized I wasn't allowing myself to get close to the Father because I was afraid of his judgement, he declared, "You are free to come." Wow, thank God he's not human, and he doesn't feel like I'm rushing our relationship if I just run back to him, jump in his arms, and say, "Oh, you're awesome.  I've missed you.  Thank you for loving me all this time though I was so foolishly distracted by so many things that can, in no way, compare to you!"  He delights in that.  He longs for it. 

The next day the song played, "What a beautiful name it is...the name of Jesus," my heart responded, and yet I felt like I would be assuming to just worship God when it had been so long I'd abandoned myself in his presence.  "You're free to come," I felt the Spirit wispering to my hesitant heart, and come I did.  I raised my hands, the yoke was lifted, I was really loving Jesus with everything in me.

Ask me again, devotion dude.  "What do I notice about the father?"
I say, "He sure likes me, doesn't he?"

"He  chose us before the creation of the world to be adopted as love he predestined us...because it gave him great pleasure." Eph. 1

Rest and Relationship

God provided through a couple we have never met.
I had asked the announcement for a short-term house to be taken out of the bulletin.
This couple were, down to the days, going to be gone while we were planning on being in town.
We spent two weeks in a fully furnished home...they even left macaroni and cheese and a booster seat for our little person. We were a bike ride away from my family, the grocery story, and the beach!

So many of you have been praying for rest for us. Well, God did provide a place for us to rest for a week, and the second week, we did a different kind of rest. We met a lot of dear brothers and sisters in Christ and rested in his grace as we told the stories of his faithfulness in Nigeria. We sat in partner's living rooms, thanked God together, and rested in God's provision and calling in our lives.  I (Christy) rested in my family's joy in hosting us for many meals.  Mariama rested in the pleasure of being loved by aunties, uncles, and cousins all wanting her to come and play!

Now we are in Indiana for a week before we head across the country once again for a couple of weeks!  We praise God for how he's blessed us with family that has embraced Mariama and made home wherever we go!  We continue to pray that God will help her to know his love through us and others, making her feel secure and known as we go from house to house. 

Collaboration, vulnerabity and trust

From Tuesday through Thursday, leaders of 24 Bible Translation organizations have gathered to discuss how we can work together more intenti...