Tuesday, June 19, 2018

There's No Handbook For This

Ten days ago, I disembarked from one of the last flights I imagine I will take for a while, rode down the escalator with my guitar strapped to my back, like a traveling minstrel, to group of my people. My pastors, supporters, besties, even my counselor was there. My heart was full. I was so excited to start the rest of my life.
I had been waiting for this moment, it seemed for an eternity, more realistically for several months.....maybe even years.

In 2013, when God called me to this chapter of life....of rescuing the vulnerable and exploited, I was ready! Filled with indignity and naivety, I charged forward, inadequately equipped to do the battle I was running in to.....and I don't blame anyone for that, ignorance is bliss, and I think at that time and even now, we are still learning how to care for people who've been broken so destructively, all the while, learning to protect our hearts. I learned quickly, how deep the wounds were, and tried to implement effective strategies for self preservation.

Five years have passed, and I am a different person than I was back then. A bit older, and maybe, a bit wiser. I've gone through several different hair colors....including grey.
The wounds aren't as fresh anymore, the scars are there, but so is the Healer.

I see things differently and pray that I always will. I walk into church now and see those squeaky clean, knobby kneed kids and thank God that their lives are innocent and untainted, but for every one of them, I also know there is a child, who has lice and an STI and has had more sexual interaction, than most adults.

And now, I am, or I think I am, supposed to slide back into society and glide along with the flow of life, ready to be a lemming. But alas, I've never been a lemming, so I don't think it will start now. Intellectually, I know this expectation is  untrue, but somewhere, somehow, I just want to fit in again. I want to be accepted as the norm, not the one who stands out.

I am a doer. Very rarely, do I enjoy waiting. Ask Jesus, He'll confirm this. And so I need to know what to do, to expedite this process, of transition, of healing, of being reborn and renewed. Give me the list and I will check it off one, by one. I'll get it signed off, and move along.

But, there is no Handbook for this.

And so, I sit, and wonder, and process. and pray. and play my guitar. and sleep. and worry. and fret. and go back to God....and then repeat.

And what can You do?

Give me time. Reach out, say hello, but understand that I may not want to hang out yet.

Hug me. Mexicans are hug-gy....Canadians are polite. I actually miss being hugged.

Spoon Me.....In Mexico I prayed every night that Jesus would hold me in His arms as I lay in bed....I knew when I got home, I'd be spooned. But, no one has spooned me yet....well except for a really old, big, loud breathing dog...for about 3 minutes.

Talk to me, when you see me. Be glad. Celebrate with me, that I survived....possibly more than survived.

Don't tell me that Im strong. When you do that, I don't feel like I can be weak around you.

Don't put me on a pedestal. I don't belong there. I obeyed God...just like so many others. Some people say they feel intimidated by me.......and that hurts. Im just me. If you think I'm intimidating...come to church and sit with me...watching me ugly cry will cure you of that. Get in the car with me, as I drive and try not to speed, but end up swearing more times than I'll admit....that will show you the real me. Watch me try and keep my cool as I watch Nolan strum a guitar, like Animal plays the drums....that will assure you that I don't belong on a higher level.

Unless you've walked in my shoes, don't tell me you understand. If you have walked in my shoes, then sit with me, hold my hand.

When you see me in church during worship, on my knees sobbing, okay, ugly crying....its okay. Understand that music is my heart language and that  very sanctuary is a place of safety for me to release. Releasing brings healing....so let me cry...give me kleenex....feel uncomfortable if you want, but thats on you.

I am not broken, I am a Child of the Most High God. He asked me to do something. I obeyed. I hope that I always will obey Him.

My worst day in this life, is nothing compared to every day He walked on this earth.

Im good. I'm just trying to figure this thing out.

Dios De Bendiga.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

God's Territory

There is a place where I currently reside. Its an uncomfortable place, even though it begs of peace and rest.
But its uncomfortable for me, because I can't control my surroundings, and maybe even my outcome, I can only control my response to it. Its uncomfortable for me, because I have to let go of everything around me that would appear to bring stability and just hold on to one thing......Jesus.

I'm not sure what my immediate future holds, and so I wonder and worry and pepper God with questions, knowing that HE knows....but so far, He, ain't talking. I try and act coy, and see if He will budge, but he smiles and pats me softly and encourages me to the cusp of something new, something   bold, something that will once again be life changing.

I find myself, restless, continually begging Him to assuage my insecurity, to give me peace and comfort...to let me feel Him with skin on. I search the scripture for words that will bring meaning and hope.

I'm living in God's territory.

The place of stepping out, placing one foot in front of the other, trusting that God has this handled, and He wont let me down.
The place of surrendering my plans for His, taking up my cross and following, listening for His voice to coach me along the road that currently seems unclear.

God's territory.

Interestingly enough, I'm not walking it alone. Im walking it with friends who are making a huge decision that will alter their family. God's territory.

Im walking it with a dear one, who is taking one step in front of the other towards God, waiting for Him to intervene on her behalf, in a broken situation. God's territory.

I walking it with a sister who is watching age steal her once strong self sufficient father away. God's territory.

Im walking it with a couple who feel Gods call to another place and are awaiting God's confirmation by giving job opportunities.

Im walking it with cousins, and siblings and friends and loved ones, who don't really know what the next step will be, other than that they will wait on God for his plan, His will, and His timing.

God's territory.

Living in the tension of it, as our minds and souls struggle through it. Learning to live in the tension of it, it becoming second nature for us, as we understand that we aren't a body with a soul, but rather a soul with a body.

Living in God's territory.

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Big Mama Pantyhose

In a writing class, I was encouraged to use a catchy title that would create curiosity......and you are reading this now, so it worked.

On any given Saturday, you will find me and usually my two friends, wandering through second hand stores, or swap meets, or garage sales. We love the deals, and we love the treasures.

Not to inflate myself beyond recognition (no one likes that...,to appear bigger than normal) But I have become quite proficient at procuring designer bags....for cheap. Its my gifting. 
My friends have become quite adept at securing mens shoes and art. 
We could be a reality tv show. 

But the more that I have gone foraging for riches on the weekends, one thing has become strikingly clear. 
Too much stuff. 

There is too much stuff here and no one is using it. Piles upon piles of used clothing, household stuff,  kitchenware stuff, tools, toys, electronics, makeup, etc. You can find anything here. On Saturday I found a communion plate.  Again and again, I am shocked by the amount and the diversity of, for lack of a better word, stuff, that has been shipped down to Mexico. The sheer volume is mind-boggling. Mexico has become a giant 'Stuff Mart'.

People bring merchandise from California down here for their families to sell. Well meaning ministry organizations ship and bring clothes, and wheel chairs, other medical devices and toiletries from their countries for the needy....to bless others with their donation. 

And I get it, its the way it's always been done. And there are some places that do need you to bring and ship things down. I am a firm believer that 'if something ain't broke, don't fix it,' but I fear this is becoming broken. 

I think in our environmentally conscious society, we need to take a step back and re-evaluate what we are doing. 
In our recycling, blue bin, green bin, 'make sure you take the caps' off world, we are missing the mark. And I am guilty of this too, I want better stuff, or different stuff, so I buy it, and then schlep my old stuff to a donation centre. 

But in it all, are we being good stewards of what we have been given and what we are giving?

And if ministry teams go to other countries, could they save the money they spend on luggage, ask for cash donations, instead of stuff, and use the funds, to purchase what is already in-country?  The solution is two fold, infusing money into economy, helping local store owners....and alleviating the overabundance of 'stuff' that has already accumulated. 

I realize that this may not be a solution for every country, but have we even thought about this as another way to help when we go to minister? Do more research, figure out what you can get in-country. 

I just think in this world where we are continually creating new, and better and cooler, and hotter, and smaller and bigger....maybe we need to re-look at the 'older.' 

Just something to think about. 

I threw the Big Mama hose in....just for fun.....cuz the are New and Improved!

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Just to Clarify

Just to clarify.

For a while now, I’ve been getting comments about what I do or how I live, as something ‘only a strong woman’ could do……..or “you are so strong.”  “I could never do what you do.” 

Just to clarify, I do very little in my own strength. If I do anything, it is with the strength of Christ.
 I am not a strong woman, I am a woman of strength
….the strength that comes from God, and not me. But,

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

Just to clarify……

Our journey has been a long one. I didn’t just one day, decide to obey the call…..to the ends of the earth. I spent many years, not listening…..whether it be from simple rebellion, or a fear of rejection from the One. I was not close to Him. 
And so, he took his time and wooed me. Years of wooing. And small steps, He would ask of me.
He would ensure that I was taken care of, by Him and his people……He even sent me flowers once. Yeah. He’s good like that.  And when I doubted, He showed up. And when I was scared, He walked me through....I was still scared, but I wasn't walking alone.

It doesn’t mean that it has been easy. It isn’t. Dying to self never is, and as I’ve said before, every step you take closer to the Father, is one step away from you own will…..and it hurts.

What I like most about Him, as I’ve learned who He is, is that He created us and understands that we are all different and learn differently.  He is gentle with me, I recognize His voice now.
He knows my past reactions are to run and hide, or take cover……and so His approach is gentle, affirming and soft.

My sheep hear my voice, recognize it, and follow me.

He has proven His love to me. As if dying for me wasn't enough, He went farther....did more. He became my first love. And He reminds of that frequently. 

"Don't forget your first love".........He whispers. 

I’ve learned to trust that voice, to trust His hand. Even these days, when future is unknown, I take comfort in the fact that He’s got this. I only have to admit that I am powerless on my own.

Because I am not a strong woman, but a woman of strength.

Just to clarify.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

I Am Desperate

Have you ever wished you had a better relationship with someone?

I was having a conversation.... messaging with a dear friend the other day, about some stuff that God was showing me, and she said, "Oh I wish my relationship was like yours."

Huh. I don't know what to say when people say that, because I don't know how other people are with God......like personally.

I thought about it for a few days. And the one thing that I have noticed about the few people who get how I talk about my relationship with God.......is the one thing we have in common.


I am desperate. I am desperate for God. I am desperate for His hand. I am desperate for His leading. I am desperate for His plan......and lets be honest, I'm impatient with His timing....but, alas, I am desperate.

I cannot make any move without Him. I have learned to trust His hand. I have learned that His way is best. I have learned that dying to self, although extremely painful....is the only way that I will live. The only way that I choose to live.

My life has not been what I would have ever planned. I never would have imagined this life for myself. The places Ive been and lived, the lives all over the world that my path has intersected and sometimes intertwined with. Only God could have done that. It's mind boggling.

The people He has sent to show me compassion and the people He has given me compassion for, are not who I would have chosen, or expected. And yet, compassion flows.

The ones closest to me, a motley crew (sorry girls) are from different walks of life, choosing to walk together and love each other because of our one common denominator, God, himself. Sisters from the ONE Mister.  The great I AM. They understand this sense of urgency for our Creator.

Desperation, that calls me to the oceanside to walk several times a week.....not necessarily for the exercise....but He meets me there...and He walks with me. And I worship. And we talk. And I look at the ocean and am comforted as I watch the strength of the waves crashing against each other......knowing that His hand, just His pinky, makes that happen.
I called Him Daddy once....I think that shocked us both....I chuckled.
And I joke with Him, saying...."hey, wouldn't it be cool if....." And he catches me off guard by reminding me......."Don't forget your first Love."
"Just as you can't see the end of this ocean, you can't see the end of my love for you."

Don't get me wrong.....insecurities try and drown out His call. Anxiety lurks in the corners waiting for an opportunity to strike.....telling me I'll never be good enough....not pretty enough.....Call me out on my imperfectness. And I steel myself against it and rebuke as soon as I recognize it. The battle continues but I know who Wins.

And so I wait....for His will to be done. Knowing that every step I take towards, His plan, is a painful dying step away from my own. But I know that in the end, it will be worth it.

I am desperate.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

2nd Cousin of Jesus

We all have dreams.
Desires, wants, secrets we carry. A little hope maybe. Hope for a better job, life....future. Maybe you are happy with your journey. Maybe you are satisfied with what you have. Maybe you are too tired to care, or maybe you just want to be seen, or heard.

Desires are good. We all got' em. Goals are good too....we work for those. Although we tend to be more interested in instant gratification, instead of the work it takes to accomplish our mission. We want longer, stronger, thicker hair now...or for some of us, just hair. We want to lose 20 lbs in a week and want a 'new spouse or kid by Friday.' Yeah, I get it. But there is value in working for it.

But, what if....
What if your whole life....your existence....your 'reason for being'.....was just to introduce someone else.

What if you would only ever be the opening act, instead of the main event?

Now I know you introverts are saying, yeah, that's okay.....but no. I mean, your own personal stuff...doesn't really exist. Yes, you are born, you grow up, you have wants and dreams like all the other kids maybe...but they don't matter. You have one job. Introduce someone else.
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you John the Baptist.
It does say that he was filled with the Holy Spirit in the womb...but, he was human.

He grows up, get some guys together, and gets on a pretty good preaching circuit, changing lives, baptizing people....making a difference.....only to have the main event show up and steal his thunder. (and technically, eventually the sons of thunder, but that's another story altogether)
Since he was human, like us, he was a sinner, like us. All of the things I described above, would be a part of him as well.
And yet, this guy.....in that moment, saw the bigger picture.....understood the bigger picture.  When his disciples got a bit disjointed as Jesus came on the scene, he merely told them....."I told you I wasn't the guy.....I'm just the guy, before the Big Guy."....or something to that effect.
No jealousy....no working out 'territories' so they wouldn't 'bump' into each other preaching. None of that.
He must increase, and I must decrease.

How many times do we say that in a day....not many, my friend, not many. We need to say it more. We need to believe it too.
God's been working on me. I mean He does all the time...but there are seasons....seasons of dying to self.....giving up my expectations and will....to receive His.
 Im in that space. It's painful. It's ...well...dying. And it gets easier, don't get me wrong.
 But again, I am human.
And if I have to die to self, I'm thankful that He is so gentle with me. He knows how easily I break, how easily I scare, and how easily I shrink back. Ever so gentle.

He must increase.......and I must decrease.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Extraordinary in the Ordinary

It's Wednesday 6:10 pm.

Just finished folding laundry. I still haven't gotten it perfected yet. I add one thing, and it makes everything fuzzy or lint ridden.  It also takes longer now to dry.....change of season I guess.

My feet are up (but covered in shoes because this puppy thinks that they are fun to bite and no yelling 'leave it' is helping. I need to go get some dog cookies, but I am tired and they are on the dining room table. She has also grown enough to jump, rather confidently from the sofa to the coffee table.....which use to be my safe zone.

She has now jumped onto my chest. She likes to perch there when she is done playing...which isn't great when I'm trying to write or watch something on the computer.

I have Selah playing in the back ground. The Timeless Collection.

Today was an interesting day for us. We were able to make progress on the AC (non-government organization.) We are one step closer. Again, I am convinced that it's who you know.

Then we made a trip across town, to see another friend. A pastor who runs a rehab. You see, we have this 'friend'.........we will call him B.

Needless to say, we need the help of a rehab. Lets hope B will say yes, because it's voluntary.
So, we went to check the place out....to talk to my friend, the pastor. I love how we are friends...through a connection in Saskatoon. We have friends in common. Here, that makes us friends.

So the three of us stood, in a dirt parking lot.......talking.
We ended in prayer.
Unified by Christ.
Prayer for the B who needs help.
Prayer for God to intervene where we can't.
Prayer for a miracle.

Some days this life seems so lost. So many people who need Jesus, or who've met Jesus, but have decided it's easier to live the old life. It's true, it is.

So, what has made the difference for me? For Lorena? For the Pastor and Pastora? For my friends in Canada, and in Cambodia.......
I am only who I am, because God recklessly pursued me. Like unabashedly, in a stalking sort of way. (It's how I know He really likes me)  And even then, some days, it seems too hard.
I guess the relationship I have with Him...is worth the fight. I am thankful for the intimacy I have with Him. I don't know how to describe it to people. It's like we are joined at the hip....the way my friends Glen and Jackie are...(and yes we sometimes tease them)  But He always seems to have my back. Yes, some days I feel alone. I need Him with skin on. But He is....always there.

My phone dings and I receive a response to a prayer request I sent earlier today.  The response agrees to pray and shares the excitement of the possible move of God in B's life. The wish to be here in person......to share in the amazing plan of God.

And I chuckle. Because I lost the amazing part of it all......the extraordinary, in the ordinary. In the hanging clothes on the line....in the dusting my car interior with Olive Oil Pam, cuz it's easier to dust........in the changing shirts to wash dishes, because enough of them have been wrecked by the  bleach in the dish water.

The Ordinary of my life here.

The Move of God. The healing love of God....the Hope. The Extraordinary of my life here.

Mixed and intermingled. Just living with God.

In Mexico.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Blacksmith or Bully......

I've been bothered recently.

This started a few days ago. I was with a friend, and we were searching for something....a rental property to be exact.

We were sitting in my mom van, and she said...'oh, we haven't prayed together yet. Let's pray."
so I pulled my van over and we prayed. (We ended up driving a block, and seeing a sign that led us to the man, who rented us a house...but that's a story for another time)

Now, I pray a lot, don't get me wrong....but it's usually just a running conversation in my head with Jesus. I forget, frequently to invite other's into the ongoing back and forth of our gabfest. Its not wrong. I could just do it better.

And I told her that. I can do this better. And then I told her that I appreciate the fact that I was spiritually growing with her beside me, and it wasn't anything harsh that was said, to make me re-examine my christianity, just two believers, journeying together. I felt grateful in that moment.

As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.    Proverbs 27:17

This verse has bothered me for years. I don't believe that I have ever heard it used in the tone and intent of what it should be.

The truth is, I have only heard this verse, come out of the mouths of  christian bully's. The "I think you are doing something wrong...and I don't like it, so I am going to tell you what you are doing wrong...and finish it with the phrase.....iron sharpens iron," guy.

If someone finished a sentence with that phrase, I dismiss everything said previously. I think it is obvious that you are not looking out to grow my relationship with God, but to elevate yourself, the blacksmith of judgement.

This verse is still in the Bible....I can't ignore it. And so, I call my Mallory.

And she hits the nail on the head.......more of a carpenter joke, I guess.

In order to sharpen iron, you need to be a blacksmith. There is a skill involved and it takes time, and training and steadfastness , and the ability to deal with a lot of heat.

In order to become a Master Blacksmith, it takes at least 10 years or more.
First you need to become and apprentice for four or more years. Then your work is judged. If it is deemed good enough, you become a journeyman, and you travel to study and learn with different blacksmiths. This can last from two to five years.....and then your work is judged again. Only then, if you are approved, do you become a blacksmith. After running your own shop, or working in a large organization, you can then apply to be Master Blacksmith. The guild may require you to submit a large project for judgement before you receive the title.

Sharpening iron takes skill. If we let anyone do it....it would just be excessive friction with two pieces of iron being slammed together.....not making much of anything except a lot of  ear-splitting  noise, and unusable product.

1 Corinthians 13:1

If I speak in the tongue of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.

Do you see the correlation?

I am not saying that we are not to correct other brothers and sisters....but I think it needs to be done in a way that is skilled and loving.

He giveth more grace. Do you?

So, are you a Blacksmith, or a Bully?

Sunday, July 10, 2016

When God closes a Door, He Opens A Dodge Caravan Door

It is easier to get a camel through the eye of a needle, than to be a Canadian buying a vehicle in Mexico.
And yet, God does the un-doable.

Its been a few weeks of trying to figure out a way of getting a vehicle here, and finally about a week ago, I got the go word and we figured out a plan.

Now that being said, it is still difficult. Things about importing American cars, and imported cars are more expensive and I can't buy and license an American car, because I'm Canadian....anyway, now we were looking to buy...cash in hand.

Two weeks ago, I started doing my research, what would be the best thing to have here....and I came to two vehicles....a Dodge Caravan or a Ford SUV.

(I really wanted the SUV) And luckily enough last week, we found one, only it needed some work done. The seller told us every day that it would be completed in a day or two, which took us up to yesterday. Still no vehicle. My friend Lorena and I were at the dealership waiting....parked outside the dealership waiting.......they kept pushing back the hour.

At 5pm, we were standing in the office while the man was on the phone about the Ford Escape. (I was excited about this)

"Listen, Lorena, what's the deal? People are praying, my whole extended family is at a gathering, praying for this car."

"Well," she said, "We haven't prayed together yet."

And with that we stepped outside the office, and prayed, for God's will, His timing and His confirmation.

And we got our answer. They hadn't even started the work on the car I was waiting for.

We got back in the car. My spirit was restless, not hopeless. We discussed going to see another vehicle, that I knew would be too expensive.......And then Lorena turned the corner.

Sitting in front of us, was a Dodge Caravan. (Lord Jesus, I really don't want a mini-van...I'm not a mom.) Hanging from the mirror...a small wooden cross.

We pulled over and began talking with the owner. He had purchased this vehicle for his family. He treated this van like family. He loved this van. Brand new tires. Amazing upkeep. His pride and joy. Well, after taking it for a drive, I was pretty convinced that this was the 'one'. (Did I mention that I didn't want a mini-van?)

We got our mechanic to check it out. He recommended this buy. We then sat in the mini van, while the man recalled stories of his family in the van.
We went into the house and sat with this man and his wife, and visited as we did the paperwork. We shared our hearts, and teased him about his true love, the van. A hug and a cheek kiss and we were on our way. (I've never hugged anyone I've purchased a car from, before)

I may not have wanted a mini-van, but I can see God's hand. God wanted a mini-van. We discussed it on the way home, God and I. I relented, and He softened my heart. I knew it was His best for me.
And so we drove home, God and I,  blaring the  90's pop music, with the windows open and the wind in our hair.
Me and God, in our mom van.
May it be filled with young women of God.