A Different Kind of Love Story

Okay, I admit it: love stories make me cry.  The other day as I was reading our history lesson over Cleopatra and Mark Antony’s tragic end, my daughter patted my arm and went to fetch me a kleenex.  Then I happened upon the trailer for a new movie rendition of the Tolstoy novel Anna Karenina, and I began to consider what the world values as a great love story.  In these two examples, at least, the answer is made up of intensity of emotion being held as a virtue to the exclusion of wisdom, demanding immediate access to privileges that haven’t been earned, and the forsaking of holy covenants and duty for the pleasure of an unsustainable present without regard for the crumbling future.  In view of the way they turn out (one in history, the other in fiction), isn’t it odd that they are lauded as some of the greatest love stories of all time?  I don’t want to spoil it for anyone, but “happily ever after” they were not.  This “love” wreaked havoc on everyone around it, destroying lives literally and figuratively.

The Lord’s calling for our family to serve in the nations is a much different kind of love story.  Bit by bit we are releasing the things that our flesh wants to cling to, to take hold of the future that the Lord has for us.  Some of it is easy.  Craigslist can have those golf clubs I haven’t used for 10 years. But the cozy bed I climb into at night feels so real, I can’t always grasp that the day is coming when we will say goodbye.  Life goes on as normal.  We do school lessons, grocery shop, cook meals, wave goodbye to Matt as he leaves for work, and mob him when he comes home.  But underneath all that is a revolution building.  My heart tentatively touches concepts that feel raw and strange–living on faith support, speaking Spanish, different government and healthcare systems–to see if they are becoming less uncomfortable as the days pass.

Some moments I stand surprised and awed at the ways Lord is establishing this work He is doing.  Prayers covering over us, divine connections made, love unlooked-for freely given, new inspiration for loving on short-term mission teams and at-risk children. I shouldn’t be surprised that God is able, but I am.  He really is good.  In the face of change that is so big I can’t conceive of it all, I remember again that He’s bigger.  This call is stripping me of all the little veils covering my eyes about my own faith.  I am humbled and yet thankful to understand how shaky I am and let the Lord lead me to higher ground.

Instead of living for the moment and leaving the future to itself, the Lord has us planting our present comforts in the field of His hands.  We are trusting that He will use it to bring forth a future harvest.  Team members inspired to live all out for the Lord.  At-risk children loved, fed, and healed into the kingdom of God.  Laughter and life-giving relationship with Costa Ricans.  Growing faith that expects the Lord to do what He has promised.  When this love story concludes, we pray it will be filled with lives blessed and hearts lifted by His strength, His love, and His glory.  Kleenex optional.

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”  2 Corinthians 12:9

“I can do everything through him who gives me strength.”  Philippians 4:13

The Birdbath Diaries

It was one of those things that popped suddenly into my heart, that I hadn’t thought about having before, but now wanted with a romantic longing. A leisurely stroll through Mulhall’s Nursery can do things like that to you. The object of my attention: a birdbath. My kids were having fun exploring the statuary garden. They didn’t need my attention for that minute.  I wrestled with the logic of my new found affection. Surely I don’t need that. Wouldn’t it be better to take that money and donate it to some good kingdom cause? I was at Mulhall’s after all, this wasn’t going to be a spare change purchase. And I didn’t want just any birdbath. I wanted the one that is now sitting in my flower garden, compliments of my husband’s heart to bless me as I turned a birthday that ended in 5.

The romance goes way back. My parents have had a birdbath in their yard ever since I was a small child, and fine feathered friends play merrily in it to this day. Yes, I know all about the green grunge that grows on the bottom of them, because I used to scrub it out as one of my chores. My parents and I would call through the house to each other to come see this or that bird, and take delight in the Lord’s creation. Like them, I love gardening and find joy in simple things like visits from birds. Although at this point in my life, I spend too much time making meals and snacks for my children to put out food for the squirrels.  I believe what was calling to my heart was Sabbath Rest. I want to sit out on my deck with my husband and children and watch the birds take joy in our garden. I want to take the time to appreciate the flowers blooming and not just get them dead-headed. Somehow a birdbath was a memorial stone of the Lord’s invitation for me to be still and know that He is God, that He will be exalted throughout the Earth.

After the inaugural filling, my kids and I asked the Holy Spirit to invite all the birds to come and enjoy the water, to let them know that it was a safe place. And He did. In a few hours, we spotted the first to take a drink, a shiny blue-black grackle. He was so pleased by the water, he jumped in and splashed around. And many others have followed. Each seems like a special moment of celebration. Man can chisel out a birdbath, but only the Lord can make a bird to revel in it.

“. . .If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.” John 7:37