Easter Celebration~ Prayer Resurrection~God’s Kingdom Perfection

**My apologies for the extreme delay in this update…I’ve been very busy…busy cleaning up potty accidents, and putting out sibling rivalry fires, and cleaning more dishes and doing more laundry than one can keep track of. I wish I had something “more significant” as an excuse, but every load of laundry is a Kingdom investment when done unto our King.

Easter, three weeks after the move-in.

Easter, the climax of God’s redemption.

And for us, a display of prayer resurrection.

For months, while we were consumed with renovations and the struggle to simply GET there, “all” we could do was pray.

To do the “work on our knees”.

We laid out the promises of God….promises-turned- prayers for God to work at our little tabernacle that we had been working on for so long.

“May God be gracious to us and bless us, and make his face shine upon us, 

that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations.” 

Psalm 67:1-2

Lord, may the nations be blessed through this home.  May your salvation and your ways be put on display in this place.

 “…for my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.” Isaiah 56:7 

Lord, may all nations be able to gather here to pray and meet you. 

A voice cries: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.” Isaiah 40:3 

Lord, would your Spirit go before us, to prepare the way for YOU to work through us. Make highways into the lives and hearts of people to meet you.

 “I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message,  that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.  I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one. ” John 17:20-21

Lord, cause the Believers in this place come together as one.  May we work towards the same aim of bring your shalom, your peace, to this place. 

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20

Lord, may true disciples be raised up and formed in Grove Park.  May you lead us to those that are ready to be discipled and who will want to follow you and will raise up others to do the same.

“Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.” Isaiah 55:1

Lord, would you go before us and put a hunger in people’s hearts for You and Your Word which satisfies so richly. 

And then, as Easter approached, and I unpacked a few more boxes….

 “Then people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and take
their places at the banquet table in the kingdom of God”.  Luke 13:29

Lord, we didn’t plan ahead, but please bring to our table anyone who needs a place to celebrate your Resurrection with us.

And 48 hours before Easter, I didn’t know who all would come, but I planned to lay out a feast in faith that God would bring whoever needed a “family”.

And they started to come.

An international student from Rwanda.

Our Rwandan friend

Our Rwandan friend

Kenyan Christians just reeling from the news of the slaughter in their homeland.

Kenya, Rwanda, Japan, and Atlanta represented here!

Kenya, Rwanda, Japan, and Atlanta represented here!

Our former neighbor and now close friend, whose family is from India.

My friend, and former neighbor whose family is from India

My friend, and former neighbor whose family is from India

Friends that we had made from our life in suburbia of Atlanta, who once had been homeless but had now stabilized,

A woman from Cameroon, (who had randomly known our Haitian neighbor) and started coming to our sending church with us (and became a member!), who we had lost contact with but joined us last minute anyways.

Compton, who didn't have anyone to spend Easter with

Compton, who didn’t have anyone to spend Easter with

Then our Muslim neighbor, and our seventh-day Adventist neighbor, and a guy from our church, and our own rowdy crew and on it went….

Our gracious neighbor who ran extension cords to our house when we first moved in with no electricity

Our gracious neighbor who ran extension cords to our house when we first moved in with no electricity

all gathered at that kitchen island that a sweet friend had built for us

to feast on food, and fellowship, and the joyful declaration,

HE IS RISEN!

And that was just the beginning….

After our feast we migrated over to another “intentional neighbor”‘s house. A sweet friend and fellow Believer who has lived in the community for four years now.  We did a Scripture egg hunt and then a candy egg hunt on the big lawn in the middle of our community.  On my way over, I stopped by a house where I had invited the kids to the egg hunt just a few days prior.  As they prepared to come, another neighbor asked…

“You doin’ and Easter egg hunt for the kids? There’s a bunch of kids up that way that would wanna come..” And then the word started traveling up the street.  A bunch of kids and even a teenage girl hopped in the car, with others promising to meet us “over there”.

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When it was all said and done, there were nearly thirty kids gathered on the back deck, a handful of teens and a smattering of parents, all listening intently to the story of Christ’s death on the cross, his burial and his resurrection. Songs, a testimony, and a chance to invite this Risen Savior into one’s life and heart ensued. Neighbors had gathered to celebrate the beautiful Resurrection.

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After the massive candy egg hunt, kids played football, neighbors gathered on the front porch, Danny engaged the teen guys who had come down, and we enjoyed the beautiful day that God had given us.

Together.

So many people gathered together for Celebration over our Savior’s victory.

And my heart throbbed with joy for the prayer resurrection of all those seeds of prayer buried deep into the heart of a Father who hears his children’s cry to see Kingdom perfection.

And then, if that weren’t enough… God was about to show me just how extensively He had been answering all those prayers prayed.

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on the lawn of “pioneers” who moved into the community four years ago and are creating beauty through home and lawn and the presence of Jesus in their lives

~~~~~~~~

I pulled up to the tiny house that is “home” to more people than I can keep track of. I drop a handful of kids off, and then meander over to Tamiya’s dad’s truck, where he sits talking to all the neighborhood men, the ones who congregate at “the spot” to chat and sip away at their Budweisers all day. I introduced myself to him and apologized for keeping her so long.

“That’s OK. I’m just hang in’ out anyways. Hey, do you guys know of any kind of programs that mentor girls?”

You, mean, discipleship?!?

I think in my heart.

“Yah, my girl, she’s a good girl, but her mom and I split, and she don’t go to a good school, and she’s getting caught up with the wrong crowd. I know my girl is smart. She used to read all the time, but she really need some sort of mentor in her life to help give her direction, cuz she keeps mess’in up in school.”

And we had a long talk about parenting, and the Gospel, and the power of prayer, all amidst the other guys interjecting,

“You said your husband’s a pastor?”

“When you gonna start prayer meetin’ s or something’? I’ll come, I need to get back with God again.”

“I wanna be part of stuff too.”

“Can my kids go to church with you?”

And then we all prayed right by that beat up red pick up truck. We prayed for our neighborhood, for Tamyia, for the struggle of parenthood, and we thanked Jesus that, because of His death and resurrection, we could have His presence right there with us.

And we had “church” right there on the side of the street.

And it reminded me of the way Jesus use to do it. Along the road. As he came and went. Meeting people where they were. His Kingdom Perfection, amidst an imperfect world. His Resurrection, all making it possible.  And the Celebration that happens when we get to witness and participate in it all.

  

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When you want the glory without the path that gets you there

I dreamed it.

And it scared me.

Scared me right into humble submission to every long, hard, fatigued, feeling-sick day. Scared me into waiting patiently.  Scared me into receiving whatever I needed to learn and do in this hard waiting process.

It has been a tough 4 1/2 months. More negative emotions, failures, despairing moments, and struggles have been faced than I would like to admit.

And ever since week six, I had been grumbling about how I was excited about the child, but how I was horribly dreading/already hating the pregnancy . I kept whining to my very patient husband, “I just wish I could go into labor tomorrow. Why can’t I just skip the 9 months of utter misery and weakness, and get the kid?! Isn’t that what we were going to do with adoption? I’d do anything, just to be on my way to the hospital, ready to deliver this baby.”

And then I dreamed that it came true.

And I went into labor, and I was at the hospital….

…and I delivered a tiny, shriveled, and underdeveloped baby.  A dead baby. And the doctors told me,

“The baby didn’t have enough time to develop and grow. There was no way for the baby to make it.”

And that morning, the emotions still washing over me of what that would have been like, the Lord impressed it on my heart.

“What I am growing within you, is far more than a baby.  

And the character, patience, long-suffering, and endurance I will develop in you takes time.

If you rush the suffering, you will rush all that I am growing in you.

You will get a truncated self, just like that truncated baby”

So in my natural, in-my-strength, and according-to-my-plan self, I’d much rather avoid the messiness, weakness, humbling, and agony of it all.  Can’t we just skip to the glory? (have a precious little person in my arms to hold and to cherish?) But God is teaching me the same thing He was teaching His followers two thousand years ago.

You see, Peter seemed to have the exact sentiments as I do. (about the glory, not necessarily the baby)

This passionate and impulsive fisherman-turned-follower-of-Jesus, had great, bold faith in the Christ. He caught glimpses of a Kingdom led by this humble yet strong Man.  He was going to follow this God-leader into VICTORY.  He knew Jesus was the path to glory, to the Kingdom, that he had been longing for.

But he forgot that death is the path to glory, the shame of the cross the window into joy, the loss of self the finding of oneself.

He wanted what death brings about, but he wanted to skip the mess, the humility, the weakness of that which brings us to the resurrection.

Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him, saying, “Far be it from you, Lord! This shall never happen to you.” But he turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”  Matthew 16: 21-23

Peter didn’t want suffering, entrapment, torture and death for Jesus.  “There is another way!” He declares. “Far be it from you, Lord, that you should ever suffer such weakness, vulnerability, and humiliation!” Poor Peter, with all his good intentions, had his mind on the things of man, not on the things of God. And I, too, deserve such a rebuke. For Jesus has predicted my death, and I try to declare “There must be another way!”

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? 

Matthew 16:24-25

And who, in their right mind, would voluntarily choose death. and struggle. and suffering. and denial of our hopes and dreams. Who on earth would want to be a “disciple” if that is what the requirements are for the “Jesus Club”?

No one. Unless….unless, they witnessed, this leader walking straight towards death. Riding a donkey right into the city where He would be handed over. Continuing to be friends with the very man who would sell him for thirty pieces of silver. Head straight for the suffering. Not for suffering sake, but for the sake of the Love of the Father, the love of the Father for…

ME.

For US.

For the whole messy, bumbling crew of us.

When one witnesses that kind of suffering motivated by love, we can’t help but follow.

No matter what the cost.  No matter what the cross.

And because it was LOVE that motivated our Savior’s, sacrifice and death.

We can rest in the fact that no matter what sacrifices and deaths we face,

the Lord has led us there

Because of LOVE.

May we not shortchange His love simply because it doesn’t “feel” good in the moment.  For, if you just wait three days. (or 9 months in my case) or even years and years,

Glorious, wonderful, experience-love-to-the-fullest RESURRECTION takes place.

And its worth every step on the path that gets us there.

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Katy-Grace Growing Up

I thought these two videos of subsequent Easters was a funny juxtaposition of our sweet and crazy Katy-Grace. She can be such a joy and delight, and yet such a handful…We’re praying that God will take all that fire in her and funnel it for the Kingdom.  By the time she’s twenty she should be the most compassionate young woman you’ve ever met, if God answers all of our prayers (multiple times a day, after each disciplining!) that He would turn her hands (and teethe) into vehicles of compassion and mercy (instead of what they often are used for, of late).


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