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Life With Christ

how time freezes, for a walk with God

10.26.14

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there are moments when the sky freezes. moments, when the birds cease to fly, and the winds that blew not to long ago, suddenly stop blowing. moments when a friend appears, and that time as if ordained by God then freezes, as you both digest the amazingly beautiful presence of self, and wonder at the perfectness of time that brought both together.

moments such as these, are so often coupled with pain or laughter. she says. like the moment when the family friend stopped over to bring comforting words to Chris, after the murder of her father. or the moment when the girls had seven of their friends over to spend the night, and wish them a happy birthday. it was also the same moment when Chris realized how simple life precious moments are, as she in the pitch of dark walked to the kitchen for a glass of water, and stopped instead to stare at the seven friends and her daughters, as they gently slept.

when they stopped by a few weeks back, they stopped by to bring back the fullness of life, as they cut open the bushy trees and freed them of all the loose hanging leaves, and the branches that seemed tired of carrying them along to another season seemed particularly happy that day. now the sky seems much more clearer, and the fullness of life seems to have found it’s way back to the hearts of those who call this place in Echo Run home. Chris particularly loved how time is visible in the eye that is the space between the branches and the tree. how the birds can be seen from afar, landing gently on the branches, and spending what seems like hours scavenging for something to eat.

it was after the fullness of life had returned, that a frozen moment appeared yet again when Chris bumped into her Hindu friend K, who was back from visiting her husband after he had taken a turn for the worse a few days back. the pain and suffering was evident on K’s face that evening, as she struggled to stay calm and strong. yet her seemingly fragile face told it all, as she battled to hold back tears, and smile all at the same time.

she says God gives strength, as He walks you through a season of pain. she says this, because it’s been over two years that she has walked through this pain, and it’s been two years that He has never failed her. How God can transform into One much bigger than religion is so evident now, as K begins then to pray this prayer:

Our Father, which art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy Name.
Thy Kingdom come.
Thy will be done in earth,
As it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive them that trespass against us.
And lead us not into temptation,
But deliver us from evil.
For thine is the kingdom,
The power, and the glory,
For ever and ever.
Amen.

 she says she learned this prayer back in high school, and has never forgotten it’s powerful words. and it was after this prayer, that the wind began again to blow, and the sky moved the clouds along, as the birds returned then to sing a few songs before dark.

they say, it is not how big our problems are, but how big our God is. for in every situation, there is an opportunity to see the grandness of our God, and to experience the grandness of His blessings, His mercies and His powers.

K, this devout Hindu friend, managed to tell God’s story that evening, and confirm that religion has no power over God.

God has power over all.

love: Christine

the abundance of nothingness

10.21.14

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she stepped out of the house in the freezing cold of winter. the wind was hauling back and forth, as the drizzle of rain came streaming down the hill from where she lived. ”sometimes one needs to feel life, to be life,” she thought. life is real when the rain pours, and your feet freezes at the cold grounds, while your face numbs up to shape the cold into a block. she was one of those rare thinkers, people would often say. she made blessings out of nothing, and cherished the abundance of life in it’s purest of self, hence the name Gracie.

she had managed to save up some money to have her rain boots engraved with the words – Wait Patiently. Wait on one boot, and Patiently for the other boot. and so it was that winter had made it’s way, and so did the use of her long awaited boots. all day she had wrestled with the idea of waiting. it seemed as if years had passed by, and maybe just maybe she thought, she might have been forgotten in what seemed like a sea of forgetfulness. so it was her mission that day, to save herself from drowning, and perhaps also to weed out all unwanted parts of self, that dared to make a life in what seemed like a life truly worth saving, and worth waiting for.

a story is told of the lady Hannah. it is said that she waited for a blessing of the womb, and year after year it returned back empty. it is said that she cried, and as well wrestled with understanding Papas divine purpose and plans for her life, and in the midst of it all, the story also unveils the love between Hannah and her husband. the unconditional love they shared, despite the emptiness of womb, and it is there that Gracie finds rest.

we are never to underestimate the seemingly hopeless nature of life. never to stop hoping, and never to stop trusting. that in the midst of uncertainty, and despair we are also never to stop counting our blessings, because in the divine perfectness of time, all will come to pass and the blessing of the harvest, will then be one fit for a King.” she thought.

she made it to the farm that day in the drizzle of winter, only to find that child had made it’s way out, and mother was in the midst of love as she created a nest like space for child. and in the middle of a rainy drizzly day, Gracie met hope once again, as she hurried to clean up mother, and offer child back to her as her wait for child, had been so many months of emptiness.

again Papa spoke

the puddles of rain on the side of the road that day, made for a fun outdoor activity, as Gracie matched to her own beat, and many a times stopped with a stare at the skies, as she breathed real loud almost enough for the world to hear, and stopped many a times to pluck a straw of grass, to then smell the life out of them.

she returned back home safe before dark, settled in her favorite hammock as she reminisced the blessing of the day and her journey in wait. this time around welcoming the invitation from Papa to wait even more. wait even when life seems stuck, when everyone seems to be moving but you, and their blessings pouring but yours. even then we are to wait. to accept this divine invitation that is much bigger than us, that calls us to believing in a power much greater than us. to then believe that His perfect time can not be delayed, and nothing good will He withhold from His beloved children.

there is something precious about waiting in the nothingness of life. about receiving the abundance of nothing, because it is never nothing that we receive, but rather a divine something that fills us enough to keep waiting for the divine appointment.

love: Christine

when the face of poverty invites you to hope

10.15.14

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“whatever you have done for the least of these you have done for Me.” she remembers reading that, and then reaching for her calendar to see when next she could free herself to travel. His message was clear, and she didn’t want another day going by, without a plan to travel.

she made it to Kenya.

her, her husband Chris whom she had pleaded with for days, and promised all sorts of promises, to have him join their travels to Africa. he eventually agreed, and there he was miles and miles away from home, in a country far from what he was accustomed to, yet from the minute he set foot on the dusty streets of Nairobi, he felt a certain intrigue about the place that left him thankful to have made the trip. he dared not mention a word to Anna, who had for weeks tried tirelessly to convince him to take the trip, and many a times he did everything in his power to avoid that discussion. their two daughters tagged along as well. one willing, and one unwilling. though Anna had solicited their feedback on traveling to Africa, much like her husband, the decision to travel was not up to debate. they would make the trip whether or not they cared to.

summer had made it’s way to that Eastern part of Africa. the sun’s rays, were as bright as bright can be, and the humidity not as bad as what they were used to back in California. it took them a few hours traveling behind an old unkept truck, listening to what they were to later learn was traditional Luo music, which was turned way up in the truck so that no matter how loud one spoke, ones voice would inevitably be drowned in the sea of music. the gentle breeze that came from the lake was a pleasant surprise, as the murkiness of the city heat, was slowly but surely building up. Kisumu, they found out was the closest city, to the humble dwelling where James, his sister and parents called home. they arrived Riat around four pm that day, and the only reason they knew the time, was because the old gray bearded man at the entrance of the market where they stopped for food, welcomed them with a grin on his face, as he stared at the bright shinning sun, and declared it’s brightness and direction of brightness, to mean the arrival of the four o’clock hour.

they found James seated by the fire place outside their mud thatched hut, which was by the way a complete surprise to all of them, as they had never known such a life to exist. it was obvious that the seemingly great supply of electricity, water and all that seemed regular in their lives, was not as great in supply as they had thought. James and his father had just made it home, from a days work of herding their one cow, two goats and a malnourished looking sheep they inherited when his grand father passed away a few months back. the sun was still bright as bright can be, and their youngest daughter who for the first time since departing California, seemed to embrace the journey they had dared as a family to take, decided to break the ice, and dare James into a game of catch. looking up, with one hand covering his dry face and eyes, like a sun glass would from the grueling sun, he smiled and gently and might i add respectfully turned her down.

having spotted him a few steps from his home, Anna had immediately noticed his frail looking body, the orange looking hair color and the look of despair that clouded his face. he seemed tired, and frankly over-worked. at the age of ten, James did what most young adults shy away from, and yet in this land so far far away from home, lived a handsome, frail looking boy who barely spoke English, and if he did he would often mix up words with his local language, who despite all odds, had managed to accomplish, what many even as adults struggle with. as he respectfully declined Anna’s daughter’s offer to play, he whisked her out a few steps from where they stood, and revealed to her that he would be saving his energy, for tomorrow’s work day. we were to later learn that dinner would not be served that night, as this year’s bright shinning summer, had brought with it severe drought, which had left James and his family many a nights hungry and hopeless. that night, was no exception.

it seemed as if the entire village had gathered together to bring their greetings to Anna and her family. James’s mother and father both smiled, and shock their hands with great joy and appreciation for their company. it was not long before they were all signaled towards some square shaped stones, to have a seat and receive their welcome. Anna caught on, and dragged her husband close to her, as they sat on these stones, and watched as Mary (James’s mother), prepared what seemed like a mud drink, and bread which didn’t look like bread, as it was made with a white looking paste that seemed to belong in an art store of some sort.

they were the only ones allowed to eat that night. it was their custom that visitors were blessings, and as such must be greeted with a meal to usher in the blessings they bought with them. and so it was that Mary served her guests, with the little they had, and the little she had toiled all day to make as good as she could, with what seemed like an empty supply of nothing edible. the rest of the villagers looked on, as Anna and her family took what seemed like painful bites into this meal that had been graciously served. Anna offered her food to James, as he looked more in need of it than she did, and also because if she was being honest, the meal that evening even though made with love, did not settle well with her tummy, and am sure the same would be told of her husband and her children as well. even then, they respectfully ate their meals, and called it a night.

as they were heading back to their hotel, they decided instead to gift the family with the blessings they had travelled so very far to bring. Anna’s heart seemed distraught at the condition they lived in. the mud thatched hut, had no heat or privacy available. the entire family slept in that one tiny little space, and had very few blankets to warm their cold bodies on cold winter nights. so it was a pleasure to then bring with them hope, and pass that along.

the gifts came as a surprise to James and his family. the seemingly hopeless faces, turned to hope as Anna and her family presented the gifts to them that evening. James particularly was very excited to receive his first pair of canvas shoes at the age of ten. mother and father were honored to know that the very next day and weeks ahead, Anna and their local friends would be drilling boreholes for fresh water, and building them a better place to call home.

it was a dream come true.

Mary cried helplessly that night. tears of joy flooded her face, as she danced around the fire that seemed to also light up even more, as joy filled the village that summer evening. they all joined her in tears, and danced for hours as they thanked God for remembering them. Hosanna had indeed visited them, they said. they were no longer the forgotten children, hidden somewhere in the vast land of Africa.

perhaps, hope lives James thought.

perhaps, becoming a doctor was no longer so much as a dream, as it was a possible reality.

as he reminisced about the many nights he had sat outside their hut, and dreamt of a life better than what they had. he had always enjoyed and found it a great blessing helping his father with their cattle, particularly when they were ill. he enjoyed learning how to make them feel better, and had always wished to maybe one day become a doctor himself.

that dream seemed possible that night.

hope lives, he said over and over again.

hope sure did live

as Anna and her family made their way home that evening, their truck made a turn for the worst and refused at all to start. they were stuck. the next city was not miles away, and the only friend they knew of was out of reach.

stuck in the reality of living a night in Mary shoe.

as if the thought was not as bad, Anna and her family followed Mary back to their hut, and settled down on the cold mud floor, with sheet coverings as their blankets and settled their eyes to sleep, as mid-night had made it’s way there. again, the only reason why they knew it was mid-night, was because a story is told of the mid-night crow that only crows late in the night, around the mid-night hour said Mary.

they woke up early the very next morning to the sound of the early morning birds, and growling stomachs. James and his entire family had not eaten much of anything for days. they looked tired, but after the night they had had, they shared a glimmer of hope. it was not long before a family friend joined them, and got their truck started which they then used to return back to the city to pick up supplies. James tagged along, and was happy to lend a hand after filling his tummy with eggs, bacon, potatoes and tea for break fast. he had never eaten anything as good, nor had a plate so full of food. he ate so much, and stuffed some food in his small pouch to take back home to his family. Anna caught a glimpse of him stuffing his food from the side of her eyes, and later that day she pulled him aside and let him know that she would never again let his family go hungry another day, and that they would be taking back lots and lots of food to feed them all. James was happy. that is all that seemed to matter. that his family would have enough to eat and live.

days and weeks went by, and Anna, her family and friends gathered together to bless a family that seemed to have blessed them even more than they could ever have dreamt or imagine. and when they eventually returned back to California, life was never the same again. never would it ever be the same again, not after meeting poverty, and it then speaking hope to them. 

<pause the blog music at the top right of the blog to watch this>

love: christine 

how pain and suffering turns to riches

10.12.14

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a story is told of this courageously beautiful lady, who married into an incredibly God fearing family, and dared to live and serve the God of her new family. not much is said of her marriage with her husband, other than the announcement of his passing, which also happened around the same time as the passing of her father-in-law. As if that was not enough pain, the story goes on to tell of the passing of her brother-in-law as well.

her mother-in-law is described as this loving, thoughtful and strong woman, who endured not only the passing of her husband, but her two sons as well. her strength, and selflessness reminds me of my mother. who much like her, has endured the loss of a husband. and yet to say that she was strong at all times, would be to lie, as the story also goes on to describe her moments of weakness. moments when she wondered if the Lord had perhaps forgotten her. did she sin so terribly, so as to call this kind of punishment in her life? she might have asked. in her moment of weakness, and doubtfulness, she changed her name to – “Mara” – meaning, the Lord has dealt bitterly with me.

in India, a friend tells of the story of a one year old girl. in this story, he describes the brutality, and reality of human trafficking, slavery and rape. as he unapologetically tells this story, he chocks up and words alone can not describe the pain that clouds his face. the case of this one year old girl particularly catches my attention. perhaps it’s the innocence of a child at this age. their seemingly helpless nature, that strikes a cord and am drawn deeper and deeper into this very dark story. as he speaks, we all find ourselves transported to this community in New Delhi where this child lives with his mother and father. both hardworking, and loving people who venture outside of the home on a daily basis, to fend for their child. this precious girl, is then left in the hands of relatives, who from time to time, rape and brutally abuse their child.

i want him to stop right there.

this can’t be true.

how, how does one touch a child. such innocence. where is the heart in all this. the consciousness that tells us all to stop, when we are venturing into inhuman territory.

but he doesn’t stop.

he goes on to tell of the story of a teenage girl. around the age of my oldest daughter. i would say that puts her at the age of twelve. she too lives with her father and mother, however this time, he takes us to Moscow. her parents are in desperate need for food, and other basic needs. winter has been brutal this year, and having no electricity or gas, they have not been able to stay warm. a few days past, their son took ill. and as days went by, he seemed to deteriorate even more. he has pneumonia. having sold all they have, they are now left in the helpless hands of fate. during his regular walk to the local market, he rans into a long lost high school friend. they stop for a drink, and he proceeds to tell his friend about his son who fell ill, and their complete lack of money. his friend seems to be a good friend. he offers to have his daughter and wife work for him, and with that money, they would then be able to afford the hospital bills, and all their basic needs would then be met.

the very next day, his wife and daughter head on to his factory, where they will be sewing clothes, and packaging them for distribution. he has done well for him self, and is able to employ hundreds of people in his factory. a few days into their work, he calls for them. their supervisor, a big fierce looking man, seemingly ruthless in all his ways, walks them to his office. there, they are met by two additional men. as they enter his office, they lock the door, and proceed to brutally rape, and beat both mother and daughter. once done, they threaten to kill their family, if they dared to escape and report the incident. they are forced into a dark, dusty secluded room in the basement of the factory. the girl who directs them to this secluded room, looks to be around my daughter’s age as well. she never looks them straight in the eye, nor utters a word. she seems distraught, and in her own way, seems sorry for them as well.

in the land far far away, Mara whose real name is Naomi encourages her daughter-in-law Ruth to pursue a long time relative. she immediately finds favor with him, and before long she in turn finds true love once again. his name is Boaz. she is his princess, and he her king. their love for one another, comes after the endurance of such pain. the realization, that God is not asleep, and He is not unjust. that in our pain, He is there. in our sorrow, he wipes away our tears. in our forgetfulness, he reminds the many Naomi’s out there, that He doesn’t deal bitterly with his people. that He loves us so, despite our moments of doubtfulness. he loves us so.

in the head quarters of the United Nations, years have gone by and the child who was once a year old, is now all grown up and surprisingly, and even more beautifully she is stronger than ever. her parents have since passed away, however their relentless fight for justice has not gone unpaid. their daughter Nishi’s perpetrator was eventually after many years of struggle, found guilty and sentenced to fifteen years in prison. Nishi is now a lawyer. one who relentlessly like her parents, dares to fight for those in need. she speaks to millions around the world, about her story. about the hope, in the dark dungeons of disparity. and much like my friend, she in her own authentic way, dares to unveil the light in this dark story that my friend, dared to bring to life on that cloudy, and rainy Saturday night.

what about the mother and daughter trapped in the basement of the factory, you might ask. well, life does sure have it’s own way of bringing justice where needed. in it’s own time i might add. a few years after graduating law school, Nishi secured a job with an international law firm, that dealt primarily with social justice issues. her first assignment took her back to her home town of New Delhi, and it was not before long that she was reassigned to serve with a team of lawyers in Moscow. it was there that she heard of the dark stories, much like hers that resided in Moscow as well.

it was during one of their raids in a local factory, that so happened to be the same factory that mother and daughter had been held captive all this while, that Nishi first got to meet them both. by this time, mother was suffering from a terminal illness, as she had been denied physician assistance, while being held captive. the daughter on the other hand, had found herself pregnant by the factory owner, and she now bore two of his sons.

the day of the rescue, Nishi recalls hearing mother, lift up her voice in thanksgiving. she had heard of a Lord that rescues His people from slavery. she had also heard, of a Lord that hears our prayers, and avenges all wrong doings in our lives. when she first heard of our Lord, she had no idea how to communicate to him, instead she started speaking with him. everywhere she went, she took Him with her. never fully knowing, how deep of a connection she was building with Him. she tells of times when she heard His voice. like the day of the rescue, when He whispered – freedom is here, freedom is here.

they are both now happy, free and serving Him in ways that they could never have thought possible. though their road has been oh so difficult, and many many a times forgiveness has been so hard to reach, however regardless of all their pains and struggles, they have seen the wonders of His works, and continue to tell of them. they know now, that through it all, He is God and He is good. 

Love always: Christine

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