Do Not Fear What They Fear

 

photo credit: pepe50 via photopin cc
photo credit: pepe50 via photopin cc

We just returned from spending several days together with 2,500 people in line with our hearts. The Christian Alliance for Orphans gathers every year to discuss/plan/pray/act on behalf of the orphan and foster care crisis during their annual Summit. We were blessed to be there for the second year in a row–a tradition I now cherish.

These people gathered shoulder to shoulder with us in Nashville and we all but sang our throats dry and wept a little and held hands up to the sky. We attended seminars and heard speakers, soaked in scripture and furiously scribbled notes on paper. Many of us tweeted snippets of wisdom, blogged from pews, looked around at each other in awe of what was happening in that space. We heard story after story after story. We heard about victories. Many, many victories. We mourned setbacks. Stories that break your heart. Stories that mend them up again. Ones that penetrate your heart with beauty that can only come from a redemptive Savior. Ones that remind us never to stop listening to the stories.

We were rubbed raw with reality. In a good way. My husband and I kept looking at one another and without needing to utter words, we confirmed that we were called. We were refilled and refueled. Commissioned and convicted. Energized to continue, one foot in front of the other until our family’s open arms contain a child or children that need them.

But even when you know what God is calling you to do, it does not make it easy. The unknown is frightening. Internalizing stories–the sad, the brutal, the tell-me-it-isn’t-true stories–it’s enough to make anyone stumble or become afraid.

But our God, our God, knows the skin we wear. It’s no surprise He speaks to our fears throughout His Word.

But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear what they fear; do not be frightened.” (1 Peter 3:14)

Do not fear what they fear.

Do not fear what they fear.

Do not be frightened.

We are blessed.

This life–it is blessed but it’s not necessarily easy. But none of us are called to easy. We are called to a life that requires sacrifice and hard work. Not always fitting in or going with the flow. Sometimes limping. Sometimes being carried. Sometimes carrying others.

To whatever ministry we are called (the orphan, the needy, the widow, the foreigner, the stranger, the angry, the hurt, the unlovable, the frightened, the children, the elderly, our brothers, our sisters, all), we must be bold and courageous and unashamed by the blood and the muck and the dirtiness this world offers.

We must look into the eyes of those whom God loves, one at a time, and respond to the pain in this world. Run straight into it. 

This conference? A beautiful, stunning, heaven-sent reminder of a call. A call to all of us on this journey of showing Christ’s love to others. It takes on many forms but the result? It’s the same.

We are all called.

So, let’s remind each other. Let’s clasp hands with each other. Let’s run into it together with the end in mind. And respond to the pain, help others through it, help them learn to live again and love and be loved.

Let’s not fear what they fear. Let’s not. Let’s be a blessing and be blessed.

When His Love Language is Hamburger Helper

IMG_2748A few weeks back on Valentine’s Day, I found myself in the grocery store. I had already done a bang-up job on the kids’ treats (mostly dollar store “junk and rubbish,” a disturbingly long-lasting helium balloon and the biggest Hershey Kiss on the planet.)

The kids had responded with a whoop when they found their goodies that morning and were then shooed out the door for school (which marked the beginning of my consuming the above mentioned Hershey Kisses after they left.)

I also bought my husband a card and had written something hilarious yet poetic. Done and done.

Or not.

I strolled down the grocery aisle and found myself staring at a shelf I rarely notice. Jarred Hearts of Palm? Nope.

Hamburger Helper.

I’m no food snob but I probably don’t need to explain why I rarely notice this shelf. But that day I did.

You see, my husband loves it. Loves. It. Everything about it. The meat. The cheesy noodles. The quantity. The efficiency. The price.

And knowing this about my husband, you would probably think that I’ve made it for him countless times to express my love and devotion. It would seem to make sense that if someone you love likes a food, you would make the food. It’s called filling up the love tank. Don’t normal, sane, kind people do things like that?

But sadly, I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve served this little delicacy. I’m embarrassed to admit I have neglected this love language of his.

I remember I asked him some years back what he wanted for his special birthday dinner. His response: “Hamburger Helper Beef Stroganoff.”

You would’ve thought he had asked for freshly grilled puppies with a side of unicorn tears by my reaction. “Let me make you REAL beef stroganoff!” I pleaded, snobbishly. “With real beef! It will be delicious! It will be so much BETTER! Than that.

And being the easy-going guy that he is, he gladly consumed my “better” meal. And it was delicious.

But.

Then a few years later, the Hamburger Helper topic came up again. With a few boys under our belts, he thought it might be a good meal to introduce to them. Why wouldn’t our kids like it? He loved it when he was little. It contained two of the three major toddler food groups: cheese and noodles. All it was missing were the Goldfish crackers.

So, I begrudgingly bought Hamburger Helper. But not the normal kind. I bought the “healthier version” with whole wheat noodles. And instead of regular milk, I used soy milk (in fairness to me, we were dealing with a milk allergy at the time but still.)

And guess what? It’s wasn’t great. In fact, it was gross. Big shocker.

So long, Hamburger Helper. At least for a few more years.

Fast forward to this Valentine’s Day. I stood staring face to face with the item that spoke love into my husband. Five days from that moment we would be celebrating our 13th wedding anniversary. And I’ve learned a few things over those years. One of them was making me reach out so I could do something important.

I should make Hamburger Helper for my husband! This will be my Valentine’s gift to the love of my life! And not the gross “healthy” kind. Not with soy milk. I will make it according to the package directions with regular milk and extra ground beef! Yes!

And you know what? He loved it. All of it. The beef. The cheesy noodles. The quantity. The efficiency. The price.

But most of all the fact I made it for him. It filled his love tank. The perfect Valentine’s meal for our crazy life.

As a side note: he bought me a card and a DVD of the Goonies. Weirdly, that fills one of my love tanks.

That’s just how we roll.

Dancing in the Minefields

IMG_2715I posted a song called “Dancing in the Minefields” a few years back on our anniversary.

It was the year we received hard news on the health of one of our kids. We were also going through another move, a job change, a new baby. It was a wonderful, challenging, exciting, strange time. It felt like we were dancing through some minefields. But dancing nonetheless.

Every year has been full of laughter. And learning–about each other and God and where we’re headed in Him. We’ve journeyed through 7 homes, 3 babies, 2 states and approximately 4,329,422 Lego acquisitions. It’s been a fast, funny, lovely ride.

Now here we are. Celebrating thirteen years of marriage. If you had told us we would be on the brink of opening our doors to God knows how many children not born of my body, we probably would not have believed you. If you had told us we would be ready to open our hearts to children from broken places, we probably would not have believed you. If you had told us we would be looking at our three magnificent boys and then headlong into the scripture of James 1:27 and saying, “there is room for more”, we probably would not have believed you. It would’ve sounded like too much.

But. The beauty of these past twelve years is that it’s not. Not too much at all.

We went dancing in the minefields
We went sailing in the storm
And it was harder than we dreamed
But I believe that’s what the promise is for

‘Cause the only way to find your life
Is to lay your own life down
And I believe it’s an easy price
For the life that we have found

And we’re dancing in the minefields
We’re sailing in the storm
This is harder than we dreamed
But I believe that’s what the promise is for

So when I lose my way, find me
When I loose love’s chains, bind me
At the end of all my faith, till the end of all my days
When I forget my name, remind me

‘Cause we bear the light of the Son of Man
So there’s nothing left to fear
So I’ll walk with you in the shadowlands
Till the shadows disappear

‘Cause he promised not to leave us
And his promises are true
So in the face of all this chaos, baby,
I can dance with you

(Dancing in the Minefields by Andrew Peterson)

So here’s to another year of dancing. Through minefields. Through storms. Through promises and joys. With this man it is an honor and privilege to dance through it all.