Blessed incubation

There I was, buried in the trenches of a fierce war…
Against eggs microscopic laid by
Pinworms.
(Sorry if this is too much information), but the battle consisted of washing all bedding, towels, and clothing in hot water every.single.day. Not to mention the vacuuming and bathroom cleaning every.single.day. The battle rivaled that of battling thrush, except every member of the family had them, and therefore was spreading them. Every waking moment was spent on staying on top of the battle.

Cleaning the toilet again, Clorox in hand, I told Him.

I told Him, “Lord, you know I would much rather be building those relationship with the moms at the public school, so they can come to know You. I would much rather be leading Bible Studies. I would much rather be reading to my kids, or accomplishing that great unit study in our homeschool curriculum. I would much rather be accomplishing something significant for your Kingdom, but I’ll be broken here, cleaning the toilet AGAIN. And sanitizing the bed AGAIN. And washing those towels AGAIN. And while I do it, I will intercede. I will intercede for the hearts of the women I have started to get to know. I will intercede for those missionaries in closed countries. I will intercede for the many friends I have who have left home and comfort to share the good news in strange lands. I will intercede for the hearts and lives of my husband and children. And in all this tedium, it will become not just the work of the home, but the work of prayer.”

And during those weeks of tedium, those prayers offered up, were in a state of blessed incubation.

For when the time was right, my crossing guard-turned-friend brought it back up while I passed her in a fluster, trying to get four little ones across the street and to the school before I was late again to pick DJ up….she brought up the little booklet I had asked her to go through with me weeks and weeks prior.

“I finally finished that booklet you gave me. We can meet to talk about it this week, if you want.”

All those weeks of feeling like I was failing to follow through. All those weeks where the “only” thing I could do was pray. All those weeks of feeling like giving up trying to reach out to anyone.

He DID hear all those cries, while scrubbing toilets and carting laundry up and down the stairs!

And then, on a whim, I asked the acquaintance who had recently confided in me about her painful separation, if she would like to come over and join us.

And she said, “Sure!”

And then my other friend whom I had tried to do the study with last fall, said she would be willing to come over to do the study as well!

And hearts are ready for the sweet, blessed adventure of studying the Word of God together. Ready to allow the soul to be satisfied by the feast of Words spoken to us by the Living God. Ready to allow those words to draw us to THE WORD.

Ready to meet the One Whose humiliation and sacrifice paved the way for the mundane to become a holy rite, a place of Kingdom Advancement. For His sacrifice made me clean, clean enough for the Holy Spirit of God to dwell in me. Clean enough to have that Being enter in with me as I do the mundane, and clean enough to offer prayers up which are heard. Clean enough to be a vessel and instrument of intercession. and I learn that prayers offered up are never unheard,
They just may rest in blessed incubation for a time.
Maybe just in time for pinworms to be gone.

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The Lowest and Highest of Callings

“Who is the greatest?”

His friends asked him the question…the same question we ask, here, two thousand years later. Why?

Because we all long to be great….at least great at something.

Great at blogging. Great at networking. Great at cooking. Great at eating organically. Great at mothering. Great at leading Bible studies. Great at homeschooling. Great at a career. Great at homemaking. Great at juggling more than the next stay-at-home mom. (and if I didn’t have so many little interruptions all day, I COULD be really great at those things!)

To be great is to be recognized as being something.

But to be a Christian is to lose that striving after being great in order to be something, because Jesus has already been Great Enough, and His Greatness, wins us the status of being great- in God’s eyes.

And Jesus’ answer to those…to us…foolish friends of His, flies in the face of every standard of greatness that our culture screams at us.

He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me.” Matthew 18:2-5

So as a stay work-at-home mom, I have the awesome privilege of working daily, with those that Christ has given us as the model of greatness. I get to witness the greatness daily, hourly. And what does it look like?

messiness,

playfulness,

selfishness,

dependence,

nearsightedness,

joyfulness,

neediness

care-freeness

So, if I want to be great…I am to look like THAT?!?

If I like it or not, having five little souls thrust into my life to shepherd and to raise, often makes me look

EXACTLY like that.

For this seemingly low calling of changing diapers, and scrubbing behind-mommy’s-back-nail-polish stains out of the carpet, and holding whiny two year olds WHILE trying to get dinner on the table for everyone, and no-REM-cycle nights when ALL the kids take turns waking up to need something, and cleaning up what I just cleaned 30 minutes ago, and teetering piles of laundry beckoning my attention, and refereeing who gets to play with what….

just seems so lowly.

and insignificant.

and it makes me incredibly

messy

selfish

dependent

and nearsighted

But in an upside-down-Kingdom, where the King Himself enters in to neediness, becoming needy himself in a human body and dealing with neediness-doing His fair share of cleaning up messes, and refereeing fights, and feeding lots of people , and hardly ever having a minute to himself, it is NOT so lowly.

Because Jesus has declared that the people whom I get to work with, as a mother of five little ones,

are the greatest in the Kingdom.

And I get to be with them, day in and day out, 24/7.

And that is what I call a

HIGH calling.

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We must win them.

We had just finished going through Barnabas Aid’s prayer guide for the persecute church.  Nearly every single prayer plea was for Christians suffering in the hands of Muslim persecutors. That’s when Dave called to tell me he found an international student that needed a room to rent, and would it work out for us to rent ours to him?

“Yes! We’d love to meet him and see what we can work out.  Where is he from?”

“He’s a Muslim young man from Libya.” I hear on the other end of the line.

And I’m embarrassed to confess the very first thought that flashed through my mind.

“He’s going to bomb our house.”

It’s true.  It’s the very first thing that came to my mind, and in light of last weeks events, and the many worldwide ones, and 9/11, it probably runs through yours as well.

Fear of radical Islamist and their slow, strategic infiltration of countries throughout the world, including our own, haunts me. Fear for my children, and fear for their children haunts me.

But not for long. Because, just as I had to remind myself of the truth when my first thought was that this Libyan man who ended up becoming like a family member was going to bomb our house,  I also have to remind myself of which Kingdom I belong to. And where my Hope and Security rests.

For persecutions, nail-embedded bombs, and crashing towers are a temporal thing, and I serve a King whose Kingdom lasts far longer, and has far greater power than the encroaching power I see entering into this temporal “Land of the Free”.

And I serve a King who did not run and hide from those that would crucify him, but who entered into their midst that He might win the few whose hearts would open to a love and forgiveness and truth found in Him.

And I serve a King who even today has not turned His back on the 1.6 billion Muslims who have been told lies about who Jesus is, and who live, and work, and play, and raise children in a darkness yet to be infiltrated by the Light of the World.

And I serve a King who told us to love our enemies, and pray for those who persecute us.

Because He Himself did so.

He even loved me.

And because I was once an enemy of the Living God, declaring jihad on anything or anyone who got it the way of fulfilling the god of myself, and he didn’t ignore me.  He didn’t move away from me.  He did not hate me.  He died for me.

So our family moved into a place of personal death of fear, death of stereotypes, and death of pride.

And we extended our hearts, and our home, to a man from the religion that licenses the killing of my brothers and sisters in northern Africa, and the Middle East and throughout the world.

And OUR world opened up. We got to know quiet, thoughtful Adnan whose smiles were brought forth most frequently when seeing our children play. Which led to meeting his friends, and celebrating their graduations, birthdays, and births of new babies. Which led to the joy of getting to know “James and John” through a Christmas hosting program. Which led to adopting our next very Muslim, Libyan tenant-turned-family member, Nader.  Which led to his entire family, including his parents come to stay with us over the course of the next few weeks. Which has led to a whole new view on Muslims.  The Muslims who DON’T make the news because they are busy working, and taking care of their children, and having parties for their friends, and living a quiet, humble life, just like we are. How do I know?  Nader’s mother, Wafa, brought me a stack of old pictures from Nader’s childhood (brought from Libya to be put in a slideshow at Nader’s upcoming wedding).  And they could have been a stack of my own family’s pictures…Vacations to the beach, toddlers running around in diapers, siblings playing dress ups, trips taken to other countries, Boy Scout events (yes, they have Boy Scouts in Libya), birthday cakes, and smiling faces pausing in the middle of life’s joys to be captured on camera. And they stop to say their prayers, and they memorize the Qaran, and celebrate their religious holidays, JUST LIKE US.

Except.

Except, they do it without the Light of the World reigning in their world.  They do it, having a truncated view of the real Jesus, Isa or Yesu, and therefore live in ignorance of Who He Truly is, and the wonder and joy of knowing Him. They do so always trying to obtain a righteousness, good enough for Allah, when a Righteousness has already be paid in blood, and given freely to them to receive as a gift, not as an earning,

IF

SOMEONE

WOULD

JUST

TELL

THEM.

AND SHOW THEM. AND PRAY THEM INTO THE KINGDOM OF THE KING OF LOVE.

What better way to reach a people who have been so unreachable for the past several decades.  We are hindered from going THERE.  But they are coming HERE.  And we cannot ignore them, or hide from them, or fear them or fight them…… we must win them.

Win them with love. Win them with hospitality. Win them with generosity. Win them with forgiveness.  Win them with prayer. Win them with the TRUTH.  For Truth Himself, won us, and now lives in us, and He is strong enough to overcome every hint of fear, stereotyping, and pride in our hearts, if we just offer up to Him ourselves.

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The Little Evangelist

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He thought of it all by himself.

My tender at times, but all-boy at others, oldest child.

The child that I desperately wanted to homeschool.  The child who was sent off to “big, bad public school”, by a tearful mommy.

The child who I caught using God’s name in vain, which resulted in a LONG talk (and by God’s grace, NOT a lecture, but truly a talk) about honoring God and not giving in to what his peers were doing.

The child who was overjoyed that we were doing Christmas clubs so that his classmates could hear about the real reason for Christmas (or maybe it was more because tons of kids were coming over!)

That child who sometimes gets under my skin and exasperates me with his immaturity, but who also dumbfounds me with ideas like this one.

“Mommy”, he says, “I have a good idea.  Kyle and Christian and Josh don’t know about Jesus and the Bible, so what if I bring our Jesus Storybook Bible in for show and tell..”

jesus-story-book-bible

“…And then we could give one to everybody in my class, so they could read it at home like we do…and we could give one to everyone in my reading group, too”

I was thrilled that he even thought of this idea.

Paying for the idea, did not thrill me though.

We tallied it up and we needed to buy thirty-two books, that are at least $10-$15 a pop.

We already had several that Danny had bought for oober cheap in bulk, and we needed $200 to get the rest of them.

Very impressed by the biography of George Muller, we decided to start asking God for the money to buy the Bibles.

and we kept asking.

and we kept asking.

and I looked at the calendar and counted down the weeks until school gets out, and how long it will take to get the books after we order them.

So I decided God could use me holding a yard sale to provide the money for the Bibles.

I worked hard and stayed up late each night preparing and we gathered and priced and sold our things in preparation for our move,

and we made $160.

“Not too shabby…I’m sure God can bring the next $40 in somehow”, I think to myself.

The very next day at church, with my feet still hurting from being on them so much from running the yard sale, and my body still weary from all the late nights and lack of sleep,

someone comes up to me and hands me

a check

for $200.

And my son, and his weary mother, stand in awe of the God who provides for Daniel Josiah’s first (of, hopefully, many) big endeavor to share the love and truth of a God and Savior, whom he has started to fall in love with at this young age.

And as a seven year old, he sees that

money follows ministry. And if God has put something on your heart, and its really from Him, no matter how big or small, He will provide for it.

And our job is to ask, expect, and receive.

Not for US, but for the sake of HIS GOOD NEWS being made known among the nations, even here in Oviedo, FL.

 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. John 15:16

And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.  John 14:13-14

one of his moments of hilarious immaturity...I told him to pick up and he started taping things to the wall...

one of his moments of hilarious immaturity…I told him to pick up and he started taping things to the wall…

My Little One Year Old!!

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A year ago, yesterday

Zao Malachi Iverson

entered our world.

And this first year of life has been a blessed one!

The smiles, laughter, and joy this little one has brought are innumerable. Trinity’s class presentation yesterday consisted of her sharing about her brother and how she is so thankful that he is part of our family. “Malachi brings lots of laughter to our family” she said…a five year old testifying to the joy of LIFE (and the many of them in our home). This little guy, so curious, and so determined to keep up with the little brood that is always running around is a constant joy….even when he’s unloaded the pantry shelf for the tenth time today. He interacts with his brothers like a little puppy…ready to tumble and wrestle, crawl and “run” around the house chasing each other.  He patiently plays the role of “baby” to his sisters who love to carry him around and mother him. He never ceases to give mommy little joyful respites to her day as we cuddle or tickle or blow on bellies to create laughter and that huge all-encompassing grin. How thankful I am, that we did not just settle for “what we could handle” and prevent this little one from entering into and blessing our lives.  

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Because She is HIS

There are more of them here than you could possibly count. Big ones, small ones, rich ones, not-as-rich ones. Ones with rock concerts every Sunday and ones with organs and orchestras. Ones with the top theologically trained preachers in the world, and ones preaching the health, wealth and prosperity gospel. Not just one for each denomination, but hundreds for each denomination. We live in a place with them meeting in every building, school, and storefront you can imagine. We are literally SURROUNDED by CHURCHES here in Orlando.

And where did God lead us to worship, plug in, and serve after having, for five years, worked with a church that could suck one’s spiritual life dry? He led us to a small Korean church looking for someone to preach in English with the goal of reaching English speakers in the area.

The first Sunday here, after listening to Korean songs, preaching, and prayers, standing in line to eat extremely spicy Korean food, with all Korean chatter filling my ears and images of beautiful Asian faces surrounding me, I whispered over to Danny,

“Did we just get transported to Korea??”

We had several different job offers…at some really great, friendly (and mostly white) churches.

But after that second Sunday, and a meeting in broken English with the head pastor, we couldn’t deny it.

We both felt called to this place.

And over the past year and a half, with Danny preaching an English service, we have seen God do some beautiful things in the small flock of English speakers that He has drawn to this place as well. And it was refreshing to learn from and intermingle with these precious Koreans.

And then, we abruptly were notified that the service and ministry Danny led would be ending.

We were shocked.

They said they would like for us to stay but were free to go if we were so inclined. Not to mention the very humbling and confusing series of events surrounding this situation, staying meant worshipping each Sunday in Korean, and having a little headset for someone to translate the Korean sermon into broken English so we could have a remote clue as to what was going on.

And just as God brought us here to minister, God also brought us here to learn, and to be humbled, and to strip down completely anything that keeps us committed to a place other than for the sake of His beauty displayed in Her…

The beauty of a Savior who washed peoples from all cultures and all nations so that there could be a beautiful image of His love and unity in His bride,
The Church.

Not the activities associated with what the Church does.

And, if anything, this whole humbling mess brings questions that clear away the fog of what we think we are committing to on a Sunday morning…

Why do we show up to a place of worship each Sunday?

Is it for the awesome praise band? Is it for the preaching (my husband’s a really good preacher, if you don’t mind me saying so)? Is it for socializing with all the people I can easily relate to and receive encouragement from? Is it a grand social club? Or entertainment? Or a spiritual message that makes me feel better? Is it even just for the sake of ministry?

Or is it the coming together of unlikely siblings to rejoice together over a common love of a common Savior that has made us into an uncommon family. And despite language barriers, and cultural barriers, can I show up in expectation that I will meet my Father, and hear my Savior’s voice even in the eighties praise songs joyfully belted out in Korean, or the sermon translated into very simple English with a lot of disconnect in ideas, and a very different leadership style. Do I really believe that when I show up to all the foreignness that I show up to experience the fullness of Him who fills all in all? (Ephesians 1:23)

Do I show up because I long for…

Him?

And HE has made her to be His means of moving and speaking and ministering, this side of glory.

I long for all the fullness….even fullness that gets uncomfortable

So,

I show up because she is HIS.