Sunday, August 23, 2015

Light in the Darkness

So once again I've neglected this blog. No more promises. I am just too busy to carve out time to sit behind the computer. Maybe I'll do better but probably not.

I feel the need to share something with you. Something that almost seems too dark to even write, but it's in my heart and it has to come out. I almost wish I didn't know, but now I do. I have to do something with it, even if it's only sharing with you.

My first mission trip opened my eyes to poverty, so I thought. I came home rejoicing from my second trip after seeing old friends and what God had done in the months in between our visit. My third opened my eyes to real missions... think 2 days of travel to just get to the location with roads so bad they purposefully hand out anti-nausea tea and then later feed you goat with the hair still on it. We had a very evangelistic mission with hundreds committing their lives to Christ, even while the threat of the Catholic church hung over us like a cloud. It seemed whole towns wanted to know Jesus!

The last day, hours before we left the country, we learned about a heart-wrenching situation. A child TJ had counseled on one of his previous missions was in dire circumstances. Pulled from school because of finances and sold regularly as a prostitute she literally did not have a shirt to put on her body. We considered all options including foreign exchange, adoption, and kidnapping. The second two being illegal! We opted to help with her school fees so she could be loved on in the day, taught about Jesus, and be fed. Unfortunately, our story had a hard twist. Our child was later pulled from school so that she could help support her family more. As we were driving down the road we happened to see her on our last day! We were able to hug her and tell her we love her because God does. Then, we drove away...leaving her there to go home, to face the night again.
(There is more to this story than I am willing to write.)

On my last trip we learned is that there are hundreds more like our precious little one in this slum. Children live alone in cardboard houses. They wander on the streets and scavenge for food. Some might live with an aunt or a cousin. Some were abandoned at birth. Many are physically abused. Others have to peddle candy or trinkets on the streets. And as unfortunate as it is, many themselves are a commodity. You can see it in their faces or by the way they cringe when you hug them. We met one child, only one who had a mother and a father.
A family home in Comas slum.
I came home in a depression saying "God where are you?!? Why aren't you here?!? These children need you to intervene. Put your big God foot down and say 'ENOUGH'" After some time to decompress I realized that He is in this slum. He is right here... right here in this school. He is right here shining through Ms. Wilma who wraps these kids up, clothes them, feeds them, loves them, and shares what a heavenly father does! Those living in darkness have seen a great light...Matthew 4:16

IEP Larry Cochran
Ms. Wilma

One of 4 feeding centers where children get meals and Bible lessons twice a week.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

What do you think when a PK shows up looking like this?!?

When a PK (Pastor's Kid) shows up 15 minutes late to church like this
on Mother's Day, what do you think of your Pastor's wife? Do you think she's lazy for not having everyone look perfect? Or do you offer her a little grace? "I see you chose to pick your battles today. Happy Mother's Day."

What you don't know is that PK spent the 20 minutes before this photo doing this...
while screaming "Me never goin there again! Me not gettin dressed ever!!!"

Maybe just maybe your pastor's wife was up late ministering to your pastor. 
Maybe she's exhausted because she does Sunday mornings (all day for that matter) like a single mother. 
Maybe she works to help pay for the ginormous cost of seminary so your pastor can be educated enough to serve you.
Maybe your pastor gets up at 4:30 to study every morning and she doesn't get a lot of rest.
Maybe your pastor spent all week doing the business of church and has to prepare his sermons late on Saturdays.
Or maybe God laid something else on his heart and the midnight oil was burning at her house.
Maybe she works and doesn't have time to lay out clothes because her family can't live on a minister's salary. 
Maybe her kids don't like church somedays because dad gets to take 50 other kids home but almost never drives them home. 

MAYBE you could make her day by offering a little grace like someone (everyone) did to me today. 
Maybe you can drop off a box of breakfast bars at your pastor's house labeled "Sunday Only." 
Maybe you can iron clothes or fold them for that matter like Ms. Jonnie used to do for me.
Maybe you can smile to say I understand.

And you can ALWAYS pray that God will give her the strength to walk this blessed but rocky road He's laid before her, so your pastor can do his job well.

(Many thanks for the grace I received this Mother's Day. It was truly a wonderful day.)

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Break Our Hearts

I've been wanting to share about what broke my heart on the last day of our trip in Peru, but I haven't yet found the words. 
For some people in third world countries, the poverty is so great that even the small children must work to just provide food. In Manaugua, Nicaragua there are young kids performing acrobatic acts and juggling or cleaning windshields in the middle of 8 lanes of traffic in hope you'll drop them a little change. In Lima, Peru we are told children are given a box of candy or trinkets and are not allowed to come home until it is all sold. We were briskly walking through the streets when we passed a cardboard box with fruit and candy. Behind it was a pile of something. Inside was a tiny child the size of our 3 year old but obviously much older. She looked sick and had flies on her face. 

I've seen the faces of Compassion International children on tv. 

I've seen them in person, but this little girl...My heart broke. 

I couldn't pick her up or even give her a drink...I felt helpless so I just kept walking. We tried to go back and put money in her box but she was gone. My husband, TJ, wrote this in a devotion to the volunteers at church and it gives me hope and direction for what God is asking us to do next. 


"Nehemiah 1:4 – Break our Hearts Lord

“As soon as I heard these words I sat down and wept and mourned for days…”

                In their song Hosanna, Hillsong United (and our praise team) invite us to sing to God to break our hearts for what breaks His.  When we sing the words “break our hearts for what breaks yours” I often wonder if we realize what we are asking.  Our hearts breaking isn’t just an emotion that we show, nor is it seeing the need in a situation and simply acknowledging it.  It’s all these things and then doing something about it. It’s bringing joy into a situation that is less than enjoyable.  The word Hosanna itself means joy, adoration, and praise.  When our hearts break for something we as Christians are called to bring Christ into the situation, therefore that is where the joy comes from!  Our hearts breaking for what breaks His means that we have, “put on a mind that is in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5) and seek to follow the Holy Spirit in bringing Joy (Christ) to the world.

  I love the book of Nehemiah, for many reasons, but primarily because Nehemiah saw something that broke the heart of God and he did something about it.  He gives us an example of what happens when our heart breaks for the things of God and then decide to follow Him and not our plans.  The book begins with Nehemiah, who is the cup bearer to King Artexerxes, being given a report from Jerusalem.  Jerusalem was in shambles and was being persecuted by neighboring towns.  This was the worse news as a Jewish man he could have received, period.  It broke His heart not simply because the town was in shambles but because this was supposed to be God’s dwelling place, a city that was holy unto Yahweh. Quite simply Nehemiah’s heart broke because God’s heart was broken.  But here is what I love about Nehemiah; he didn’t just get mad, he didn’t proclaim how much needed to be done and form an action plan, he “sat down, wept, and mourned.”  Why? Because he knew the heart of Yahweh was broken for this very same thing!

What breaks your heart? Is there anything that God is asking you to see with His eyes?  While in Peru on the streets of Lima we encountered a young girl about four or five years old who was covered with newspaper asleep on the steps of a building.  She had no mom or dad who tucked her into a nice warm bed, she had no pillow, she didn’t have money to buy food, and there was nothing that could be done that day that would prevent the same situation the next day.  It opened my eyes to the same things here.  What breaks your heart?  What causes you to mourn for days? 

 I invite you to pray this with me today, Break our hearts for what breaks yours God, show us the things that we should mourn on and let’s see where the Lord leads us."


Friday, January 16, 2015

Kickball with Jesus

 VBS in Shucush Peru. Our lesson one day: "Do for others what would want them to do for you." Simple...make 2 bracelets. Keep one and give one away. These kids seemed to know God's word fairly well. I really didn't think we had taught them anything they didn't already know. Then this happened.
Meet Angelo... Angelo sat quietly on his riding toy just holding some string and a handful of beads watching the other boys chatter and vi for the coolest beads. I slid over to help him and he smiled the biggest smile I've seen on earth so far. I thought, "I guess he's never seen a gringa lady before. That's cool." We put some beads on and I realized he was having a harder time than some others and didn't verbally answer my questions. But look at that smile!

Then it was time for "juegos" or games. Angelo's brother asked what we were going to do. He said Angelo couldn't walk. Angelo's ride is a little too small for him but it sure has four wheel drive! He maneuvers these roads every day.
Have you ever seen anyone play kickball with their hands? Some men on the team made sure it happened! Angelo hit the ball and other boys took turns pushing him full speed around the bases. Remember the do unto others thing?
I think they got it!
Many of those boys gave their hearts to Jesus this day. As those awesome men put it, "Today...we played with Jesus" and we were blessed beyond measure.

Angelo may not be included everyday but he waved his arms like a champion as his mother carried him home this one day.

It made the 14 hr bus ride over 11,000 ft on this road totally worth every minute!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Jesus in the Toilet?

Before heading on my first mission trip, I received a friend request on Facebook from a man that I was a little leery of becoming friends with. He had a Spanish name and lived in another country. I noticed we had mutual friends and then realized he was a pastor who helps lead the mission teams and now I know pretty much does it all in Nicaragua. 

Pastor Carlos posted some pictures that didn't make much sense to me. There was a toilet (concrete hole) and every person in this community, I mean every person had their picture made with it...the one toilet.  I didn't understand why until I stood in that place, until I realized there was no where to "go," until while playing with some kids I stepped in a little ditch with murky blue water running through it, until I went to the kitchen sink that didn't drain to get a bucket of water to fill up the back of a broken toilet behind a blanket at a restaurant. It was windy that day...and like all the restaurants it was outside...enough said. 

Now, I look at that latrine and I know why they had their picture made with it. Because now the little ones don't have to go into the field at night and people have their dignity. Now their well water will be cleaner and their babies won't be so sick and they can breathe a little easier. 

I look at these people who rejoice that God provides and I almost feel ashamed because I have 3 toilets in 1 house. The entire village could live with us...really.
I feel angry and ask why does God give to some and not others? 

And I remember His love. I don't know who built that latrine...maybe a missionary team maybe Carlos' brother Thomas. God's love is right there in that latrine. He could've just opened the heavens and poured out money, but instead someone sweated and toiled and sacrificed and built a toilet. The people of Brisas saw them working day in and out, saw that someone cares, saw that the Father cares for His children. 

As Christmas approaches, I realize that God could have just saved me, opened up the heavens and said "Hey, you're forgiven." He cares too much for that. He came to earth, to breathe the same air I do, to feel the pain I feel, to eat the same foods, and to probably even use the bathroom in the bush. He bore my sin, carried my mess, and suffered for it, I mean really suffered...because He loves ME and YOU. How much mercy this precious little babe would bring! 

Friday, November 7, 2014

Lady J

As I hurried to grab yet another pan of tacos for the 4th graders on Wednesday, I noticed a lady just standing near the kitchen.  We will call her "J". I assumed J was one of our kids' moms. Often they get on the bus when no one is home and occasionally someone notices and needs them for something. I smiled as I hurried by and on my way out asked J if she needed help. J said she needed groceries. There were like 500 lbs of tacos right in front her. I invited her to eat with us but J declined. I suddenly I realized I left a poor man with 22 ravenous 10 year olds and no tacos. I promised to hurry back. By the time I came down, someone had given J a pre-made bag from the food pantry. 

As I walked J out, she told me there were 9 people in her house. I smiled. I touched her arm....I told her to come back tomorrow when the office was open for a grocery voucher. I felt self conscious with her in her pjs and me with my new shirt. I should have left my sweatpants on instead of squeezing into uncomfy clothes at 5:15 so I could look more like "the preacher's wife." I wanted to pray with her. I wanted to share with her the One who has given me a new legacy to leave my children, who has restored my marriage, and who has literally set me free from darkness. I wanted her to know she matters and is loved,  but I was suddenly aware that she didn't want me to love her. She didn't want Jesus from me. She just wanted food. She had hungry kids or maybe not, but she was desperate enough to walk into a place full of people she didn't know, who might judge her, to possibly face rejection and ask for food. 

Sometimes we don't know what to do, or what God would want. Had I pushed Jesus on J, she probably would have never come back. Did I miss the opportunity to share with her? Was the food, the smile, and the incredibly loud joyful buzz of 150 kids enough to show her Jesus? I think it was enough. She didn't ask for God. She wasn't looking for Jesus... BUT she knew whose house to go to when she was hungry...and HE is ready to show himself even to those who aren't looking.
In Isaiah 65 God says, "I revealed myself to those who did not ask for me;  I was found by those who did not seek me."

How can God use you to show himself to others? I didn't do anything for J but stop and smile. I can't even claim credit for giving her a bag of food, but God can use you if you're willing. Open your eyes and be ready!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Harvest in Peru

SO...I haven't been blogging since...forever. Life has just been more important. Our house has been filled with children, we've added a college student to our family, and we have been doing some international missions with our church. It's crazy but blessed!!!!

So far, my heart has been in Nicaragua and TJ's heart in Peru. We are a house divided, not by football allegiance, but by which country has pressed into our hearts! You should hear the banter in broken Spanish or mostly English on my end, haha! Then TJ mentioned a trip to Peru that had maybe only 1 young woman on the team. In Latin American culture, it isn't appropriate for a man to lay his hands on the women to pray for them and honestly it would be a little strange to see a group of all men trying to put on a VBS, even though they always help and play with the kids. I considered it and...We prayed and prayed and we have babysitters for that week!
Even though my heart is breaking that I can't afford to see these precious faces this winter and go to Peru we are heading to Chachapoyas, Peru January 2nd.
We have heard that the village we are visiting has only just now heard the gospel. Seriously! Never. Heard. About. Jesus. A man walked 10 miles to hear the gospel preached and brought the message back to his village. We have been told the harvest is ripe! I think we will also be visiting "Wilma's school" that TJ helped a mission team from Dayton counsel at last May. We will possibly be doing a construction project, medical outreach, VBS, eyeglasses outreach and will be speaking at churches in the evenings. I am learning that with missions we really can't plan for the next day or even hour. We have to be flexible and just love on the people who are in front of us that very moment.

We need your help...
PRAY- Pray that God would have the hearts of the people we meet softened and ready to accept the love we offer in the name of Christ.
SUPPLIES- We need everything but I'm sure we can only take very little since we will have an in country flight. Craft supplies, streamers, glue, crayons, coloring books, tinsel, inflatable balls, jump ropes, frisbees, gum, shoes, old eyeglasses...etc. Anything that is light and can show love!
SUPPORT- Travel is very expensive to get to from Tennessee to the village in the Andes Mountains. If God moves your heart in this way, you can send a check to:
First Church PO Box 12 Dayton, TN 37321
and make sure to put Burdine Missions on the memo line.

Also, I would be more than honored to come share what God is doing in our lives and the lives of our new friends at your women's group!

I plan to share more on this blog of our past missions and I hope the people who we love so much will minister to you as well.

"I tell you open your eyes and look at your the fields! They are ripe for harvest." Luke 4:35