Thursday, April 30, 2020

It Takes Two

I like the number 7.  I like the sideways mountain, and long slant coming down.  I like that it's odd. I've always found higher levels of math frustrating, and therefore numbers have brought me a lot of angst, unlike my husband who gets great thrills out of a well-made graph or a page full of statistics to wade through.  In our family, the number seven has arrived by twos. To someone who doesn't do numbers that well, four times two, making seven, sounds just right.  Let me explain what "It takes two" means.

It took two...I met Zach in Dallas in 2010, and we were both working in West Africa.  Happy as can be to serve and love and live but when we decided to get married in 2012, it took two to establish a home where many neighborhood children were welcomed and loved.  Where single guy friends of Zach's could bring their future spouses to talk about relationships, where two becoming one could shine God's light in Nigeria.

It took two...Mariama was born in 2015 in Jos, Nigeria.  Three weeks later, Daso came to live with us. She was nine at the time. It took the two of them to stretch my heart in many directions, giving me a capacity to love that I never knew.  Daso introduced me to the world of primary schools and a new insight into Nigerian children and their needs.  I stumbled through ushering her through adolescence, and demonstrating what Godly womanhood could look like.  Mariama introduced me to a community that embraced my children and humbled me through continual advice and constructive criticism. This sweet duo showed me how families are built, how discipleship starts at home as I discovered their spiritual needs were similar though at different levels of complexity.

It took two...Lydia joined us in 2017.  Mariama and Lydia were the two babies who had entered our family through my womb, and they are so different!  It took two to show me what I already knew; God masterfully knits each creation uniquely. Giving one child a powerful, husky voice, bubbling laughter, and contented zeal, and another an explosive imagination, slender limbs, and articulate vocabulary.  It takes the two of them daily to draw out creativity and laughter, bringing me to tears of frustration and mountains of rejoicing in a single stride.

It takes two...Acacia and Olivia, surprising me with their arrival two months early, the every-three-hour feeds, they bombard me with need, sound, smiles, cuddles...I am surrounded.  Without my life erupting with babies and diapers, I wouldn't have experienced the intense times with God while they were in the NICU.  I would have missed out on the community that has gathered around us to care.  I would still be struggling more desperately with the idea that God's love is linked to my ability to serve him.  But I have been emptied two by two, and then filled back up.  A continuous refreshing cycle of losing myself and relief in finding a renovated me in the tides of this life rolling over my heart.

Me + Zach,
Daso + Mariama
Mariama + Lydia
Acacia + Olivia   = 7 individuals who have joined to become family, each giving from the wealth that is in them to enrich the others. Now that's my kind of math!

Fuzz and A Name Change

I wash Olivia's little hands, so silky soft, creamy pink in my hand, reaching to remove the fuzz that gets absorbed into her little creases.  I have always found it fascinating how infants have these perfectly formed hands and feet, full of potential, yet they are gathering fuzz, lint, the occasional hair. For lack of use, they fuzz up! 
Do you ever wonder if you're the kind of follower of Jesus who gathers lint in your hands and feet?  I did yesterday while I bathed my wiggling girls.  Here we are, empowered by the Almighty with the same power that rose Jesus from the dead, to extend our hands to go with our feet to those that need love and light, peace and hope, but maybe we are gathering fuzz.  We are fully functional souls, many of us having experienced the nurture and love of our Father for many years, yet still infants in our lack of use.  I do not want to gather fuzz any longer.

"Lydia, come here please!" I called to my vivacious 2 year old.
"I'm not Lydia, I'm Uncle Josh!"  She exclaimed.
"Okay, Uncle Josh, come here and get dressed."
"Okay, Mommy!" she replied.
I'm always surprised that someone who can so confidently claim the identity of another does not change at all in her character, her relationship with others or her actions.  She remains the same jumping, jolly little person, while trying to convince me she's my older brother (who is also quite jolly).  This continues throughout the day, and it makes me wonder if I'm a bit like Lydia.
I have taken on a new identity in Christ.  I'm a new creation, and yet, is there a change in me that is more than a name change? I do hope that with the name "Follower of Christ,"  that his character, the way he asks me to relate to others, and his actions permeate how I live my life.

So often we ask you to pray with us about something, but I have the joy of sitting while nursing babies many hours in my day.  I have time to pray for you, and I'd like to do that.  Please let me know how you're doing using your hands and feet to ward off the spiritual fuzz and impact your world and what your identity change looks like in this season.  This will encourage my heart, but also help me to pray for you. If you're struggling to think of how you are having impact or clearly showing your life in Christ, I will be happy to pray for you or listen!

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...