Monday, May 30, 2011

what we have to enjoy

i've been a little picture crazy here lately.  mostly because i want to capture all the faces and places that are dear to me before we "peace out."  and somewhat because i've been inspired to take the time to notice ... to notice what is dear to me that i haven't noticed before. 

the question was recently posed to me...

what if someday God holds us accountable for all the things
that He gave us to enjoy and we never did?

what an interesting thought. my children seem to feel it is their prerogative to indulge and relish every pleasure they possibly can... anytime, anywhere. sometimes i think enjoyment is a right that i have to earn... after all my responsibilities of the day have been met. and even then, i think that really enjoying myself involves an escape from ordinary time and space.

 i'm reading a most unique and thought-provoking book called 1000 Gifts by Ann Voskamp. i'm being challenged to recognize the gifts God fills each day with - obscure as they may be - to receive them and thank Him for the simple joy that they give me. so, i am on a quest to notice; it's like a treasure hunt. what can i find that's beautiful, that makes me praise Him? last week it was the ruby-throat hummingbird on the back deck.

two days ago, it was sky blue on top of Jacob's Creek

and a little boy's treasure... yes, i know only mommies find these things beautiful

yesterday, it was a wind chime and bubbles in glass.

then, there are the moments that smack so sweet and i smile. like Reynah's pigtails tickling my cheek when i hold her. and Josiah picking strawberries that he can sell "so we can get back to Africa." :)

 Grandpa Simpson (who turned 90 last week) at the park watching his great-grandchildren play

And Thomas reading from Grandma's journal, which she wrote from 1940 - 1945

yes, me and my little 'point and shoot.'  obviously, i have a lot to learn in the art of photography!  but i feel like i'm making some progress in the art of noticing.  sometimes.  other times, my children remind me i have a ways to go there too.

like the other day when we were walking together and i stopped to appreciate the field of hay bales.  Josiah asked, "Mom, why are you taking pictures of hay?  what's so special about that??"  as i was trying to explain my new-found art to him, Judah asked if he could kick it... just one time?  i agreed to the "just one time," which led to him and Josiah both kicking and pummeling the hay bale repeatedly while laughing with delight.  i gave up taking any more pictures of hay.  i called them to walk with me some more, so they came running then with flushed cheeks and sparkling eyes.  who knew a hay bale could be so fun?  so i think that there is a step beyond noticing that is wholeheartedly enjoying.  i think it isn't about a discipline to be learned, but it's an instinct to be remembered.  i stand on the edge the wonderful, and, yes, appreciate it.  but my kids jump into the moment with a splash and swim in the wonder.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

isn't she beautiful?

~posted by Mika

The whole world has indulged in a truly ridiculous fascination for the past month – this real-life fairy tale of a common girl marrying a future King. Kate Middleton had to be the most adored woman in the world last week! We try to imagine what it would be like to be the center of such pageantry and attention. And who knows how long we would have ridden the bliss of their nuptials had it not been interrupted by the dramatic death of bin Laden? I am, of course, a romantic girl, and while I did NOT wake up at 4am to watch the wedding – I did catch up on the details of the dress and the kiss just like everyone else.

I’ve noticed, however, that the last month has grown a fascination in me for a different bride. More than a fascination, really – a deep admiration and rekindled love. Growing up in church, I’ve felt very familiar with the “bride of Christ.” These words brought images to mind of a church building or a faceless body dismembered with its “many parts.” Where is the romance or attraction of that?! But I have been introduced to many faces lately that are showing me how beautiful she is and – honestly! – what a grand romance between her and our King Jesus!

Our itineration is taking us somewhere new every week. One Sunday, we were with a tiny congregation in “nowhere” rural, West TN. Almost every person sitting on the pews was over 65. They all sat around after the service ended looking at our pictures, asking questions about Africa… their aged faces showing a love for people that they could never cross an ocean to love. So, they honored us with the privilege of being their arms extended. And they were so beautiful to me.

Last weekend, we met a very young body of believers at Murray State University in KY. We were able to share a meal with young college students who are part of the Chi Alpha ministry there. It had been awhile since I was surrounded by so much laughter, joy, and energetic unity. We listened to their stories of God’s transforming love… memories of missions trips, prayer times… and dreams of where God was going to take them in their futures. Some stories made me laugh so hard my belly hurt. Some stories made me cry. And they were so beautiful to me!

I recently watched a video sent to us by our dear friends serving the persecuted church in a communist Southeast-Asian country. It was at a secret church gathering, and the adorable children were singing a song (complete with motions!) in their native language. Heart-warming doesn’t even begin to describe it! Today, I ate lunch with my cousin who is on staff at a huge mega-church in Birmingham. She and her husband praised the church for its outreach ministry – thousands were saved at their Easter outreach services a couple weeks ago. Two VERY different churches living with two very different realities. But aren’t they both so beautiful?

We spent ten years being part of our church in the role of pastors. Now, we have no title to distinguish us – except “moochinary,” which Thomas likes to call us. It is so refreshing to recognize that being part of the body doesn’t have anything to do with having a title! I am committed to the church more than I have ever been. I know that I NEED the church more than I ever have. I’m even infatuated with the fellowship of people who call themselves Christians worldwide. And I’m reminded that we can’t define what the bride should look like. Don’t we like to belittle or disregard the image that we aren’t familiar with? She is wholly unique and ever changing. No, she isn’t perfect and rarely even radiant – because she is HUMAN. But God of creation is longing for her, captivated by her, jealous for her, courting her until the day He marries her. Wow! – what a love story! William and Kate have nothing on this one.

" ... just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless." eph. 6: 25-27