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Monday, December 24, 2012

I Believe

I hoist her up on the changing table to change the bazillionth diaper of the day.

"Mommy is a scared." Abby says.

I look at her with a puzzled expression. Where did that come from?

 "Mommy isn't scared, baby. I am just changing your diaper."

"Mommy is a scared," she says again.

The sight of her lips swollen up huge flashes through my mind. I have been struggling with fear since she was stung by the bee, and we got the diagnosis. Serious bee allergy... Anaphylactic reaction... Epi pens ... Likely to be much worse next time... The doctor's words float through my mind. If I learned anything from Makiah's death, it's that tragedy is often fiercely unpredictable and our control of life is tenuous at best. Nevertheless, an actual diagnosis that could potentially cause the death of another one of my children has made my insides tremble... fear rearing its ugly head.

But my 22 month old couldn't possibly know about any of that. .. the secret struggles of my heart. Then she says this.

"Mommy is a scared but de angel is a beside a mommy."

"Excuse me?" Now she has my full attention.

"Mommy is a scared but de angel is a beside a mommy," she says it as normally as if she had just told me she was hungry.

"Where is the angel, baby?" I ask in disbelief.

She points right next to me and grins.

Now, we have a toy nativity set, and I know she knows what an angel is. I think she is surely referring to that little plastic guy with the wings in the living room. So I ask if the angel is little, and I show her with my hands.

She shakes her head no and pulls herself up to standing on the changing table.

"De angel is a biiiiig!" She exclaims with arms spread out wide.

What just happened? I shake my head in bewilderment. Did she really just say that? I hug my girl close, and I notice that my heart feels a bit lighter...

I won't tell you what to think about this because I am not sure what to believe myself. I will tell you that it happened just that way. Would God allow a little child to see an angel that her mommy is blind to? He might.

What I can tell you for sure is that He is real. Jesus, I mean. And that God did allow his son to be born as a little baby into this broken, painful world. An innocent child meant to take the fall for all of us who have grown up and made bad choices and inflicted pain on others. Why? Because it is real! The perfect place he wants to take us to is real. His love is real. He is real. His angels are real.

What happened with Abby reminds me to marvel this Christmas. To fix my eyes not on what is seen but on what is unseen. Words quoted even by the President of the United States as he stood before the broken at Sandy Hook last week. Why? Because it is real. And this Christmas more than ever, I believe.

16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.  2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


The cold wind cuts bitterly across my soul.  The rumbling grey sky reflects my thoughts.  Knees pressed down in the sparse dead grass.  My fingers in the dirt.  I press them in as if I could dig her up and everything would be as it should.  I cry like a baby and trace my fingers across her name.  Oh, God, help me!

What can I do?  I ask it  as I straighten the tiny Christmas tree beside the cold hard stone.  Such a contrast…  the shiny colorful balls dancing with light right up there next to that grey, sour rock that screams of death.  What can I do when my life is like this strange juxtaposition of joy and pain?  Oh, I don’t feel it so deeply every day anymore, or I don’t think I could bear it.  But those special days.   You know, the special moments that holidays are full of…  watching the wonder in your tiny ones eyes when the lights and music of flashy floats pass by in the Christmas parade.  The sweetness highlights her absence.  And so the pain is heightened.  Bittersweet.  Moments of jagged knives ripping into my soul as I stand there smiling in the crowd.  Trying desperately to be full of holiday cheer.  Wanting not to miss a second with the three precious ones here now.

What can I do?  Worship music floats from the car where my babies wait for me.  Please make this pain count!  I pray to the God who sees.    I unclench my hands and let the grass slip from my fingers.  Please make my life count!  Pushing up, I get back on my feet.  At least on the outside I do. 

What can I do?  The only thing that comes to me.  It’s just this little word.  Write.  So I am.  I kissed my toddlers in their beds and with baby in my arms, I am pecking away with the one hand that is left. 

That’s all I have to offer.  What is left.  And so do you.  We live in an imperfect world where suffering creeps in slowly or seizes us suddenly, but none of us are immune.  And yet the place hidden down deep inside that screams “Please make this count for something!  Make my life count for something!” is the very proof that eternity exists.  Our longing for it, for something better, something more meaningful, more perfect is evidence that it is real.  And that we were created to be part of a larger story and that you and I have a part to play that no one else can play (if I may borrow words from John Elkins, author of Waking the Dead and other fabulous books).

So this Christmas I will offer the gift of myself to Him again in hopes that he truly can make something good of this mess I have become.  What else can I do when he came to be born just so he could die for that very reason?  To ransom me.  To take this mess of me and make much of my nothing.  Bittersweet.  A bitter cup for him to swallow, but oh how sweet that love would drink it for me!

For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life.  John 3:16

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Ripples in the Water

 For two kilometers the little feet tread carefully down the dusty trail into the valley.  The blazing sun beats on his back and seems to mock the boy on his mission.  Ouch!  The toes complain as they stumble against a rock in the stream bed, but the little boy who owns them does not.  In fact his face turns quickly into a snaggle-toothed grin even as he winces.  A puzzling sight for curious onlookers. 

Two of his classmates splash in beside him with their buckets, hoping to scare away any slithery creatures that might be lurking nearby.  Filling their rickety pails quickly, the three children turn hastily to climb back up the hill to their village.  The parched lips of their friends at school beckon them to return with their precious cargo.   Besides the heat and dangers of snakes, this trip costs them valuable time in the classroom.  But today will be the last trip.  Today the long awaited well will be complete!

Two more wells!!  Two more villages!  Two more schools where the children will now have clean water!  Two more times my baby’s pennies have been turned to dollars and then into wells!  Twenty two hundred new people given access to clean drinking water!  And last but not least, over 200 people heard the good news that there is living water that brings eternal life, and fifty made decisions to live for Jesus at the dedication services of the wells!

Can you feel the ripples?  The ripple of impact made across the world among a people you and I will probably never meet.  Can you see that precious smile of the little boy whose life just changed?  Or can you feel the joy that comes from pleasing the Father’s heart?   That special swelling that comes when his people partner with him to bring about his will on earth. 

And I just learned that a four year old pre-k Sunday school class has sent in the full $1800 they raised to build another well.  And a very special middle school has taken on the challenge of building a well for Makiah and for the character of their students.  And even now there is almost $1000 sitting in an account at Operation Blessing waiting for the difference to come in so another village will be changed.

Thank you for building Makiah’s wells!  You know who you are and every penny has counted!  Please consider making a Christmas gift that will truly change lives this year… in honor of a loved one here or  in memory of one who has passed away.  Donations can be made through PayPal using the link to the right on this blog or if you would like a tax deductable receipt, checks can be mailed to:

Operation Blessing International
Attn: Brenda Fansher, CSB 322
977 Centerville Turnpike
Virginia Beach, VA 23463

*Mark your gift clearly for Makiah King and it will be credited to her account.

New Somanya, Ghana is a village of 700 people.

The village school children celebrate!

The previous water source for both villages was a stream over 1 mile away.

Nwneniso, Ghana is a village of 1500.

This well was built purely by well charms!  If you bought one, then this is your well!

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A Gift of Life in so many ways.  Will you consider this in your Christmas shopping?