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  • Video from Amazon Jungle : Compassion Ecuador

    On Friday, November 11 th, 2011
    with more God-story to follow! “‘He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?” declares the LORD.” Jeremiah 22:16
  • When You Are In Desperate Need of Hope

    On Thursday, November 10 th, 2011
    It can come straight out of an empty sky – Hope like a cloud — only the size of a man’s fist. When I meet Lidia, when I cup her face and pull her near, and her mother stands right next to here, there in her white shirt. Her mother named Blanca and smiling. Blanca, Lidia’s mother come looking like an Elijah, looking for so long into that blank, white empty sky, looking for a gathering promise of hope. Blanca, she tells us this right at the beginning, right at the meeting, a woman who must tell us of all her straining at the sky. “I never thought this day would come. I am a divorced woman.” Blanca says it like she’s long known what she would say if this moment ever came. “When I became a Christian, my husband, he left me. He was jealous of my love of God and he beat me and he was angry that I loved Jesus and he leaves me for another woman.” Blanca says this, her eyes never leaving mine and I wasn’t ready for this. For persecution and abuse and shatteredness, all in the first five minutes. That a love for Jesus could leave you unloved and a relationship with your Father can leave you abandoned by your husband and she stands so straight, her faith-filled eyes never wavering. Lidia stands behind her mother, and I look over at her, eyes so dark, fleeting, nameless shadows, and her and I, we
  • Because God Really knows How to Meet Needs

    On Wednesday, November 09 th, 2011
    The man said he couldn’t leave his pigs. That me asking him to leave his pigs was like him asking a nursing mama to abandon her babies — and a couple hundred of them. I understood what the Farmer was saying, I did. The way the man needed his hogs or something in him would fester and hurt, a mastitis of work. He tells me — days of just sitting and standing, it will give him headaches and backaches and does he need to go because he is happiest when he is bent and working and do I understand? And yet this is what he says weeks later: he will go to Ecuador, that he’ll pack his bags and a map. Because when you hear a call, it needs an answer, deep unto deep, and lives that yield are always the one that say yes. Even if you don’t understand. He leaves a couple hundred mama sows and all their milk-guzzling, nuzzling babies, and he flies with me to Ecuador because of a call and for children. And on his first day in Ecuador? God gives him this — The pied piper of pigs —  that’s what they grin and call him —  and the Farmer laughs, at home with the swine and the snouts a continent from home, and I can’t stop shaking my head. God knows what a man needs and He sees. The hogs are Rosa’s. Rosa smiles when she shakes the Farmer’s hand, two pig farmers
  • When Thanksgiving Becomes Thanksliving …

    On Tuesday, November 08 th, 2011
    The Farmer and I traveling with Compassion to Ecuador, slipped into our beds here in Quito this morning at 2 am after a day of travelling… us carrying this story from home and all the preparing to go, carrying it out now into the Ecuador streets… Thank you for traveling with us in these posts this week and taking the time to pray over the children… When she pulls on the string it looks like the yarn’s coming out of the earth, her sitting on a high back chair, her bare toes digging the dirt. “It will be a long scarf….” Hope says this, her needles moving in and around and through and off, and this is her rhythm on the grass and in the wind, the poetry of a God who uses everything. “Lidia will wear her long purple scarf and she’ll know.” Hope will send the scarf with us to Ecuador to the sponsored child she picked out. There are maple leaves, flamed and torched, across the grass. Hope doesn’t look up at me but says it like she is saying it to the yarn, like she’s sending it with a message, knotting truth. “Lidia will know ….” Her fingers are moving fast, the yarn moving through her tips, like a flowing out of her, through her. “She’ll know that I am giving me.” Lidia in Ecuador, born only 4 weeks after Hope, born high and far from sea in Quito and introduced through Compassion, and Hope with
  • when you don’t want to be immune to life

    On Friday, November 04 th, 2011
    ‘I’ve needled a few pigs.” That’s what he says after he’s filled out the forms and the doctor peels back the tab on the syringe. “So, yeah – just feel free to — “ he waves his right hand in the direction of his left deltoid. “Yeah – just –  go ahead.” The Farmer, he finds words and he grins. I wink, loving him like this. Loving him for saying yes and leaving the farm and all his pigs and going to Ecuador on Monday with Compassion bloggers. “So does this mean you’ll squeal like a pig too?” The doctor chuckles, holding the needle high. “Well, we doing this one for God and His kids.” The Farmer looks long at me, and he never takes his eyes off me. And the doctor injects him with a sliver of steel and this vaccination for Yellow Fever and there’s something about it, the taking of a needle — and praying to be vaccinated against apathy and affluence. Because loving God has to be more than simply hating evil –- because love is a verb. Because His Kingdom coming has to be more than believing — because we’re the Kingdom of God and how are we becoming it, bringing it, building it? Because He took pins of iron and he laid it all down and life cannot be unpacked without the unfolding of hands. And life is only lived when it is given —so you have to get out of yourself, give of
  • What is Radical Faith? {with video}

    On Wednesday, October 12 th, 2011
    what I can’t get out my head these days… It’s walking through the department store that I know I haven’t completely forgotten. But I’m petrified I might. It’s walking past the aisle of towels and dishcloths and tablecloths, looking for those girls of ours who have gone looking for leotards. And it was the yellow and white plaid dishcloths, stacked and folded, like sheaves of thick papers, that did it. I had stopped. The last time I had stood in that aisle… We had bought 4 of those yellow dishtowels for Xiomara’s mother. The Farmer had bought four for me. Over three thousand kilometers apart, we both wash plates with the same dishcloth. I reach out and touch the dishcloths. Run my hand across the weave. It’s the girls who come find me. Find me standing in the towel aisle, hand on a stack of dishcloths like I’m making a vow on a King James Bible. One tear slips, carves something out of me. “Mom?” Hope had whispered it. Shalom had patted my leg. “Mom? Why are you sad?” I could only choke it out, a barely murmur, each word coming hard. “I… miss … Xiomara.” I miss the fresh bruising of my heart and I miss the witnessing, the ways the eyes feel when they are seeing for real, and I miss children and volunteers and love and I miss the way her smile curved and opened the lid right off the world. Like we were changing the world.
  • {Video Concert on the Farm}How the Poor & Rich Might find Release: The Release of a Third World Symphony

    On Tuesday, August 30 th, 2011
    So it rains the day after he leaves. The day after he walks out of the wheat field, packs his guitar into that beat up, duct-taped case and heads south again, music on his mind. But Shaun Grove’s music, his songs stay behind. Playing loud on the stereo here the next morning, the washing machine spinning and the kids all singing words by heart. Can you listen to one disk of songs a few thousand times? Songs with bars of music coming out of a hurricane in El Salvador, a garbage dump in Guatemala, a tin shack in Kenya, music bars that bust the captives free. A whole album of just released music , all about humanity’s release — the poor from poverty, the stuff-burdened from blindness. Is this what can happen? When music touches the face of the needy — and beholds the face of God. Beholds the beauty ache of its own real need… Then this — a trio of transformation, God transforming us and us transforming each other for the glory of God — This third world symphony. I don’t know how long he’s been praying that begging prayer of his — that one asking God to give him music that’s been somewhere. How can music move us if it’s never moved, never travelled, never been somewhere? How can it move us to step out if it’s never walked the hard roads? That’s what he’s prayed for — for songs that have the dust of  the despairing
  • How to Go into all the World?

    On Tuesday, August 16 th, 2011
    So we wallpaper the children’s bathroom with thrifted maps from old National Geographics. It only cost the price of the sticky tack, to mount the maps, and a bit of time, and if it all begins to fall down next week, it’s not the end of the world — well, at least not literally anyways. A boy cracks a grin: “I think we should write on the maps in red pen: “You Are Right Here.” So no one gets lost when they wash their hands.” I wink — and think of Gustavus. How many years ago now did we first read of Gustavus ? I had read aloud one morning, of King Gustavus’ standing in the great hall of the Diet in Stockholm, passionately addressing his government on May 20, 1630. With the slaughter of brethren in the faith throughout Europe, Gustavus anguished for “our religious brethren who sigh for deliverance. With the help of God, they will not have sighed in vain.” The words of Gustavus’ ardent plea had caught in my throat. Nearly 400 years had passed since those words rang out; an ocean and near-light years away. And yet – Wasn’t  there still a collective sigh escaping from our persecuted brothers and sisters around the globe… right now? How much did I care? About the countless cries of imprisoned men and women tortured for do what we do every day: talk to Jesus as Savior and Friend. We turned the page of Gustavus’ story.  The children and
  • when you’re praying to live more like Jesus

    On Wednesday, June 15 th, 2011
    When I first read her story on the screen, I want to drive a for sale sign into the front lawn and sell all the pigs. Mainly because I don’t think I can shoe horn a few hundred hogs into a suitcase — and there’s now way around it: my heart’s already left on a jet plane for Africa. Because here I am with the clean and the climbing in North America, and Katie is with the dirty and descending in Uganda and I lay in bed at night, listening to the coyotes howl in the woods, and I wonder where each of us is headed. Isn’t up really down and down really up when you’re in Christ? Isn’t the point that we want to give our lives away? How do we give our lives away? Is that what it means to be centered on Christ, the God who so loved, He gave? I walk through the rotting stench of a dump in Guatemala, step over open, running sewers, the carcasses of dead rats, try not to think about the bones of God, about the skeleton of my gaunt faith, and how do you grab your one stubborn life by the horns and turn it all around? I measure the mudroom and go to the hardware store and we buy door jams and plywood and cans of paint and we build 2 new closets to hang hooks to hang coats and it comes in the mail that day —  a
  • When You Want Easter to be as Meaningful as Christmas

    On Wednesday, March 23 rd, 2011
    ‘I’ll need a match.” Levi says this looking for light, to ignite a wick and singe us with prayer. How many flames to burn off dross and liquefy the steeled cold into the mold of Christ? I hand Levi the matchbox. He snaps one red match head into a singular furnace. The ringing candles flicker over wood. “It is like Christmas…” Levi bends over a waxed torch. It is the same wreath. All through Advent and the snow, we’d set the candles along The Way of Light wreath with its 24 holders. We’d journeyed with the swollen Mary on a donkey, journeyed towards Bethlehem, House of Bread, our arms waiting for the gift Who’d come to us, Him like a swaddled loaf, so warm, child come to nourish us, the starved and hardly dying. Now this same wreath unfurls across the table, a full 40 candle holes, our own wilderness unfolding. Nightly we face Calvary, the place of the skull and God the heavens can’t contain becomes the gaunt and hollow God who dies to feed us righteousness, manna come straight down. “It is like finishing Christmas, Levi.” Shalom has that air of certainty that only a five year old can have when rightly informing a big brother. She brushes an errant curl out of her face. “See — because now Jesus is here, Levi.” She holds the cross high for him to see. The Christ carries the cross, stripped and given. And Advent completes at Lent. When Christ completes
  • what really happens when you give to the poor

    On Thursday, February 03 rd, 2011
    The day her letter finally arrives, a letter from Xiomara, the girl in the middle of the frame and the only sponsored child I’ve met, I rip into it anxious, and part of me soars. We had wheeled happy the day we met, the happiest day. How long has it been since that day in Guatemala with Compassion Bloggers that had undone me, them showing me the bare heart of Jesus? She is always there, by the chalkboard, by the table, by the door where we come and go, with all their framed faces smiling, the other half of our family, our Compassion family. We can always carry carry hope with us and let it fly free. The paper trembles in my hands, it all thrumming wild in my chest. I read it and read it again and read it again: On my birthday I wore my pink dress. And I laugh all liquid happiness. I remember picking that dress out in town. And by the time I got back to the farm, not knowing if that pink dress would fit a nine year old and calling out to Levi with his hammer in the shed to beg him to try it on his nine-year-old frame because there’s no returning a dress you’re taking to Guatemala. And him saying no way he was trying on anything pink and me saying it was for her, please, and him saying, “Okay… just because it’s for her.” And I remember how when I
  • the celebration doesn’t {have to} end

    On Monday, December 27 th, 2010
    God comes naked and needy and it makes no human sense except God in the full weight of glory might crush us and God as a Babe, vulnerable and scandalously helpless, He draws all the weak and the limping near without fear. It’s really possible that Love might carry swaddled Deity in the crook of our hearts. And that’s when I think it on Christmas morning, when I burn the toast and the kitchen fills with smoke and the sausage bake is stubbornly crusty on the bottom and they’ve all come to the Birthday Breakfast Feast dressed as if out of the Christmas Story including the Farmer who say’s he a swine herder, long lost cousin to the shepherds and I laugh so hard I just about spill the maple syrup and they’re all gathered round waiting for me to get the steaming platters to the table already, that’s when I think it: The bit of lostness that I always feel deep inside — this lostness is the way of the ones genuinely living, and finding this out is the way to becoming found. It’s my dazed, desperate drifting — my daily drowning — that drives me wild into that manger, has me on my knees and clinging tight to the plank of wood with a Saviour laying on it. This is the unbelievable rescuing! Pure adoration can make a life a party! The happy relief has us celebrating all day and late into the night. When the kids come
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