More than Memories

This morning as I swung through my local grocery to buy food items for Taking it to the Streets, numerous parental thoughts swept through my mind. Of what’s worked, what hasn’t, and how God has multiplied Steve and my efforts, molding our daughter day-by-day.

I’ve got a lot to say, but little time to say it, so I’ll leave you instead with a catchy slogan, hoping you’ll chew on it and that perhaps God will use it to direct and strengthen your family.

A family that serves together stays together.

Tonight we will go as a family–united in purpose and love–to share God’s grace and truth with Omaha’s homeless and working poor. While there, I will get to see my daughter’s faith and character blossom as she sits with “the least of these.” I will get to see my man humble himself to serve others. United, we will get to experience the incomprehensible love of Christ pouring through us.

The drive over gives us a chance to talk about heart issues as we talk about who and what we might encounter. The drive home provides an opportunity to discuss all that God did while we were there.

Our Fridays have become special–priceless. A glue that binds us. It’s also become a training ground for our daughter–an opportunity for her to put her life into perspective, to develop compassion, to be part of positive change. This inward development has spilled over into every other area of her life.

Each week, we give but a few hours of our time, but a small portion of our resources, yet we gain so much in return. As a mom, my greatest blessing is seeing my daughter live out her faith–not just at Taking it to the Streets, but where ever she goes, seeing others through a lens saturated with compassion. (Because you can’t spend time among the broken and leave unchanged.)

So, to those parents out there, here’s my challenge.

Family time is crucial. Our kids need it, crave it. Each interaction is an opportunity to connect with our children’s heart, but it is also a time to mold their heart.

What if, one Friday a month, instead of spending say $50 or $60 going out to eat, you visited a soup kitchen and used that same money to help provide a nutritious meal to a family in need. (It’s not just the alcoholics and druggies who frequent these places. Each Friday, we see young families–mom’s with kiddos, pregnant ladies.)

What kind of memories might that create? What kind of training might that provide?

And for those living in the Omaha, NE area, come join us! We’re there almost every Friday. And bring bananas or a jug of milk. ūüôā Tonight I’ll be doing a monologue of the Samaritan woman–a woman riddled with shame who found love and acceptance in the Savior.

Keep Walking

You may remember the song from Brandon Heath, “Give Me Your Eyes.” It’s about seeing others through the eyes of Christ–truly seeing them. And loving them with the love and compassion of Christ.

I’ve often wondered what it must feel like to God, to see His children suffer. It must break His heart. It breaks mine, and I’ve caught but a glimpse of what God sees every day.

Last night my husband and I spent the evening at¬†Taking it to the Streets in downtown Omaha. This small, hot, dingy building is becoming one of our favorite Friday night hang-outs. The moment you walk in, you sense God’s presence–His deep and initiating love. And for the most part, the place is filled with smiling faces uttering words of gratitude.

Veiled faces hiding broken hearts. But every once in a while, a smile falters and tears flow as one of the precious men and women share their heart and fears.

And in a flash, I’m broken, listening to them talk about sleeping on the streets, going without food, unsure where their next meal might come from.

When this happens, I feel hopeless. What can I offer them, besides a plate of food and a gentle smile? Feeling a bit discouraged, I took this to God in prayer. I told Him I wanted to do more, to see real, long-term, positive change. Hope.

He gave me Psalm 18, and I’ve been holding tight to it, reading it, praying it. (I’ll post the verses that speak to me, but you can read the entire passage here.) Will you meditate on it with me? (Emphasis, in parentheses, mine.)

Psalm 18

I love you, Lord, my strength.

2 The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

3 I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise,
and I have been saved from my enemies.
4 The cords of death entangled me;
the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me.
5 The cords of the grave coiled around me;
the snares of death confronted me.

6 In my distress I called to the Lord;
I cried to my God for help.
From his temple he heard my voice;
my cry came before him, into his ears.

(God hears our every cry.)

16 He reached down from on high and took hold of me;
he drew me out of deep waters.
17 He rescued me from my powerful enemy,
from my foes, who were too strong for me.
18 They confronted me in the day of my disaster,
but the Lord was my support.
19 He brought me out into a spacious place;
he rescued me because he delighted in me.

(Many of the people at Taking it to the Streets are held in bondage by drugs and alcohol. This is their enemy–the enemy that seeks to destroy them. But God is bigger, God is stronger, and He can reach down and pull them out. This passage reminds me we are always, always in a spiritual battle. Satan is out to destroy us and he will use anything he can to hold us in bondage and lead us to despair. But God is bigger. Christ has already won the victory. ¬†How did Christ conquer Satan? Through love–His death on the cross. Agape love is a powerful demonstration of the life-changing truth of the gospel.)

30 As for God, his way is perfect:

(God’s got a plan and is always working out His plan. His plan is perfect. Our role is to follow Him in full surrender. He’ll take care of the rest.)

The Lord’s word is flawless;
he shields all who take refuge in him.
31 For who is God besides the Lord?
And who is the Rock except our God?
32 It is God who arms me with strength
and keeps my way secure.
33 He makes my feet like the feet of a deer;
he causes me to stand on the heights.
34 He trains my hands for battle;
my arms can bend a bow of bronze.
35 You make your saving help my shield,
and your right hand sustains me;
your help has made me great.
36 You provide a broad path for my feet,
so that my ankles do not give way.

(Surrounded by such brokenness, it’s easy to assume the situation’s hopeless, but God’s word says differently. All I can see is that next step–serving a meal, offering a smile or a prayer, initiating a conversation–but God sees the mountain top. My job is not to analyze ever twist and turn of the journey but instead, to keep walking, trusting in the God who sustains, loves, and intervenes.)

Perhaps you can relate. Is there a task or ministry God has placed before you that seems utterly hopeless? Keep walking, friend! In God’s strength you can scale any wall, and He will make a wide path for your feet.

Or maybe you are running from an enemy–sin, addictions, attacks from others, joblessness. God sees you. He hears your cries for help. He is your solid rock who arms you with strength and has given you the shield of victory.

So keep walking, friend, because God has the road all mapped out.