Day 4: CBCgoestoDR

One day 4 we went to church in Dark Waters

We held babies so mamas could listen to the gospel


We made bracelets and painted fingernails while the boys played baseball


I fell a little more in love with The Mister when I saw him in action 

And after a full day of ministry Pastor Josh and Emmanuel took us to the beach because even Jesus took a break:

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Day 3: CBCgoestoDR

Everywhere I looked today I saw my grandsweetie. Maybe it’s just because I miss her. Maybe it’s because I saw lots of beautiful brown eyed brown skinned babies in the village of Havior. Or maybe it’s because a lady in the village told The Mister she was going to name her baby “Wayne” in honor of him. 

I have hopes and dreams for my grandsweetie. I pray she comes to know Jesus when she is young and serves Him all the days of her life. I pray she does big and great things for God. I prayed for her this morning when her mama sent me this picture:

Today we saw lots of mamas bring their sweeties and grandsweeties to hear about Jesus and maybe get their face painted and pick a prize from the big black tote that carry all sorts of treasure. I wonder what hopes and dreams they have for them. Do they hope that they will do great things for God? Do they hope that they will survive and maybe,  just maybe find work that will help them move out of Havior? Do they even hope and dream or are these people without hope? And today it seemed fitting that I should pray for them along side my grandsweetie. I prayed for their souls to know Jesus because I think maybe I may be the only one today who prays a prayer like that over them. I asked God to do great things over the little girl that was about 14 months like my Addi-girl. She smiled just like my grandsweetie does when I rubbed his  little earlobes. 


We also had a coffee party, which is a lot like a tea party but with Dominican Republic coffee that is without the finest coffee I have ever tasted.  Margarite who is a believer here in Puerta Plata has cooked for us and today  surprised the ladies with coffee. The kids were sent inside to work while the men were exiled to the porch. It was perfect. This was a women’s only coffee time. As we sat around and sipped coffee and talked we decided that we don’t do this enough back home, you know slow down and enjoy each other and sip coffee and laugh. How in the world can we share Christ with our neighbors if we don’t take the time to know them? So that sweet little group of Crossroads girls promised each other that when we get back home God will keep us focused more on relationships and less on schedules. More focus on loving God and loving each other instead of rushing.


Y’all please pray with us for the people of Puerta Plata. Please get ready to listen to us go on and on about them when we get home. We are in love with these sweet believers who are working tirelessly with such limited resources to bring others to Christ. Some of these believers literally live on nothing and give all they have so that they can wil the lost in this corner of the world. Puts me to shame. Lights my fire. 


And not just me….this whole Crossroads crowd is being transformed….just like we asked God to do…….

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Day2: CBCgoestoDR

Sandy Patti said it best…”Love in any language……pulls us all together…never apart” and I sang it too with a hairbrush microphone in front of my mirror…but that’s another story for another day.

This morning we drove a few hours to church in Puerta Plata. It was well……you can see it was wild and free and loud and beautiful 

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I stumbled along and echoed a “Dios” whenever I heard just for good measure. Mostly I sat with my eyes closed and soaked up the wonder of praising God for bringing us here, for loving me and my brown skinned sister next to me. The audience was a sea of waving brown arms and I could feel the abandon in their worship. I thought about my sisters and brothers back home at Crossroads, equally engaged in worship. 

Because worship is done when we dance in the aisles or listen to an organ play. Worship is done with sweat rolling down our faces and a 4 hour service just the same as it is done by our own PreacherMan back home who has spent hours in study to bring us Gods’s message.  He does it week after week and it causes us to grow in God’s grace. Because worship is adoration to a God who is infinitely worthy of far more than our meager attempts at showing His glory. 

And so as I stand with a microphone that magnified my voice ten times louder than it does back home I feel overwhelmed to see these brown skinned brothers and sisters explode into praise as we sing tears fall down my white face. Sometimes it’s just too much. 


And as I finish my song and warm brown hands slips into mine and she leans to whisper some words of love in Spanish in my ear as she kisses my cheeks. I have no idea what she just said but I pretend that she says”We are children of our Father and He loves us.”

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Day1: CBCgoestoDR

The passports are filed and are safely stowed in the clear catch-alls around our necks that Josh provides on every mission trip. Come to think of it, my current catch-all has some unidentified smudges left over from New York. The clothes have been packed along side of a half dozen beef jerkys and a jar of peanut butter, because well, you just never know how the food situation may turn out.

This is mish-mash of old and young, college age kids and middle age moms and dads, some on their first mission trip and others have done this before and know what is going down. And we all wait at gate E-3 with half a dozen tourist going to spend spring break in Dominican Republic. Right there Josh opens up The Word and shares the immutability of God and although our today  and yesterday looks far different from our yesterday, we can trust that God is the same. Always.


I look at the couple next to me. They are obviously going to be poolside for the next week. I look on the other side of me to girls in my group laughing and bright eyed with excitement. They will sweat and work hard and give out love like it’s free. Their excitement is palpable. 

Why? Why would they go? Why spend your spring break in a village with dirt roads and people you don’t know? We are on the plane now and Josh passes us the napkins that held his pretzels a few minutes ago. He has scrawled a verse under the imprint. Maybe he knows that some of us need a little extra courage.


See, those disciple in the book of Luke were right.  It’s about changing the world.  Not always with a huge evangelistic crusade, sometimes it happens one by one. A mission trip is about exposing ourself to the hugeness of the need and listening to God ask me, “What are you going to do about it?” 

I’m not sure who, if anyone, is going to have a radical transformation because I spent a few days on a mission trip. I pray someone does, but God assures me that transformation is about obedience. If I let Him, He wants  to refocus my attention to more important things, like the urgency to share the gospel with these people and the ones at home. Because I get complacent in my spoiled American life. Because I am in desperate need of Him to rock my world, maybe shake up my perspective a tad.


This mission trip may not change the world, but I hope it changes me.

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My Pastor’s Wife……

christa

If you didn’t see her on Sunday don’t be surprised. She’s more than likely in the nursery with her arms full of squirming crying babies. She takes her turn and the turn of many others so that mamas can sit in church and soak in the Word or maybe just get an hour away from that same crying baby who pulls on her nonstop. She’s had five babies of her own and she understands that sometimes it’s not for spiritual reasons but just the peace and quiet a Sunday morning in the sanctuary can bring. What you may not know is that she stays when other won’t, and  when she’s not in nursery she’s probably in children church. The last time she sat in Sunday morning service was probably the spring of 2014. She’s my pastors wife.

She stands on the sidelines and claps for everyone else because she would rather swallow  knives than be on display. She doesn’t want the spotlight, and she doesn’t need it either. If you aren’t looking for her you probably will look right past her because usually she is “not looking on her own things but on the things of others.”( Phil. 2:4) Once in a great while she can be convinced to sing, and when she does it’s like a spring rain right there in the sanctuary….not much prettier than her rich alto voice lifting up Jesus name to the “yes Lord” and “amens” that follow.

She  doesn’t lead Bible studies or speak at women’s conferences. She’s far to busy leading her five children and loving her husband. When it’s her turn to pray she asks God to strengthen and  bless our pastor who is her best friend. That speaks to the rest of us women. In her simple prayer she points us in the direction of the best way. And it occurs to me that she leads perhaps more than she knows and she inspires without opening her mouth.

When she sees me at church her face lights up and she hugs me and I feel loved. When I ask her to pray she does…and remembers  later and asks me  how God worked it all out.

Today is her birthday and she does not expect anyone to notice because that’s her way. She’s quiet and steady. But I see her in the background. I know she will still be cleaning or putting up chairs or sweeping floors after everyone else is home in bed. I know that she is confident in her calling to love her family well and walk by her man in ministry.

You are doing it well Christa and our Father is well pleased. Tomorrow I will let you fade in the background where you are much more at home, but today…..I am calling you out. It’s your birthday. You are my pastor’s wife and I am thankful for you. I love you Christa. Keep doing what you are doing exactly the way you are doing it. You lead us well.

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And He is right there…

This morning the winter sun is brilliant. The Mister was ready to go before me as is the norm. We are driving to Alabama today. A road trip with The Mister means we take the back roads, the scenic route, as if driving the interstate would be a sin of some sort. And I don’t mind. He always takes us along country roads with fields and barns and points out deerstands and wildlife while we drive. We listen to Alison Kraus on the radio because he lets me control the radio. We laugh and talk about everything and nothing at all. And He is here with us. Behind us. Around us. Never leaving us for a moment. Steering us away from danger and dazzling us with winter landscapes.

My friends dress for the service. Today they say goodbye to their father. They will remember him and cry and laugh as we do when we celebrate a life well lived. And we join them hand in hand because that’s what we do. We love and grieve with those for whom we care. And He is here with us. He grieves with us. He moves between us with a warmth that assures us of hope of the resurrection.

She runs her heart out early in a Saturday morning. That’s what she does on Saturday mornings. She runs off the stress of a long week. She runs until her legs burn and her lungs make her stop. And she talks to Him while she runs because He is there with her. She tells Him the things she fears and the ways she loves Him. He listens and makes the warm sun shine on her in response.

She rocks the baby to sleep for her nap as she traces the smooth skin on her forehead. She prays blessings over this little one. She enjoys the quiet for a bit instead of lying her armful down.  She will just rock here for an hour while the little one takes her rest. Because for the first time all week she senses He is here with her. He has never left but she has been to busy to notice. She trades dishes and laundry for the soft rhythm of baby breath and whispered prayers.

On a Saturday morning He is not far off. He does not take the weekend off and there is no where you can go that He is not waiting there. As if He cannot stand to wait for the day when He will scoop us up and take us to His kingdom, He surrounds us, whispering His presence. And He is here with you, as you read this, while you work and laugh and play. The King of the World….you have His ear…imagine that. 

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When we pray ” Thy will be done…”

When we pray  “Thy will be done….” there is a distinct point of change in our prayers. We pivot from self-focused narcissistic praying in which we  take center stage and those around us benefit from our petitions if for no other reason to make our own lives less stressful, to a God-focused conversation with the Most High.

When we pray  “Thy will be done….” we purposefully release all expectations from circumstances.  “but what if…” is ruthlessly rooted from the deep trenches of our imaginations and we realize slowly and sometimes stubbornly that we were never actually in control of the circumstances to begin with.

When we pray “Thy will be done….”we admit to God and to ourselves that we are short-sighted. We are one-dimensional while God lives in both our past and present.  And God ? He is vast, measureless, omniscient in a  way that humbles us and our technology.

When we pray “Thy will be done….” we risk outcomes that may leave us wondering “what in the world?”.  We pledge the value of Matthew 11:6 and shake our heads while the tears course down our cheeks in agreement. No, Lord we will not be offended by You…..

When we pray “Thy will be done….”we unlock the secret door.  This treasure chest of total peace and unmatched pleasure in Him come to those who pray these things.  With these words of acknowledging His will and surrendering outcomes, we place ourselves inside the secret places of peace. Not for everyone. No, for the ones who trust Him fully…. although maybe not perfectly, but to the fullest measure that He will work it for our good and His glory.

When we pray “Thy will be done….”we unleash the power of the ages into our weak and feeble lives. We ignite a passion for the things of God over the things of us. We learn to pray expectantly and instead of timidly asking. In full assurance we approach Him with the confidence that He can do what He wills.  We begin to lay aside fears and anxiety as we feel the warmth of “His Will” cutting a path through the desert land of doubt. And there, just beyond the horizon our faith is made sight. Rivers of life overflow its banks. It splashes our dry and dusty faces while we gulp huge mouthfuls of His goodness.

Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven Lord Jesus, Thy will be done…..

 

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