Monday, March 25, 2013


It was three Easters ago that I was sitting in the Amsterdam airport on my way to adopt my son in Ethiopia.  I was overwhelmed with the reality of my adoption by God as I flew through the clouds to adopt my own son.  I was acutely aware of fresh starts and how God makes all things new.  I was flying to my son.  MY SON.  My son, with all his mess.  All his imperfection.  All his beauty.  All his need. 

Need.  Don't you just cringe sometimes at the word?  Don't we just wish people would stop needing?  Don't we wish at our very core that we could just stop being so in need ourselves?  Why can't we just get ourselves together? Well, because we can't.  We can't. Oh, we want to.  We want to be able to put on a good face and present a solid front, and on our best days of pretending, we can. But don't we get tired of pretending?  Isn't our reality that we indeed are in need?  I feel it rise up within me so often... disgust that I can't just get my stuff together.  Because, let's face it - we look around and so many people seem to have their stuff together.  It makes us feel small.  Unworthy.  Guilty.  Ashamed.  

The reality is that the people who really have their stuff together are the people who have acknowledged that they don't.  

It took me a while to truly get that.  It took me an even longer while to be willing to recognize that all I really need is need. But man, that doesn't really seem to fly in our culture.  It's all about strength and self-reliance and our own power and prestige.  It's about what we can do for ourselves.  What a dis-service we are doing to each other.  Because at the end of the day, each one of us is somehow broken, hurting and so not together.  We are putting on a face of "I'm better than okay" and for what?  For what???? 

What if people were able to find a safe place to just lay all their junk out there - their hurts, their fears, their pain, their desires - and just be who they are?  What if we all lived authentically?  What if there was no more pretense?  What if we didn't give a rip about what other people thought about us? Is this even possible, people???? 

I really, really, really want it to be.  And I think it can.  But what it takes is a people who are willing to be honest about their need. Can we do that?  Can we suck it up and just put out there who we really are?  Can I tell you that I have so loved to be needed my entire life because it gives me a sense of worth, that I have come close to completely ruining my family?  Can I tell you that I don't even know how to have friends anymore because I don't trust myself to do it in a healthy way?  Can I tell you that I feel like I'm starting over in my relationship with God at the age of 38 because I have believed lies about who He is and how He looks at me for most of my life? And can I tell you that just being able to say these words liberates me and sets me free? 

We are a needy people.  And if we don't think we are, then we aren't being honest with ourselves and each other.  But I am learning... my need is a gift.  It is what draws me into a real, authentic, messy relationship with God.  It's what keeps me close to Him.  I freaking need Him every second of the day and that is nothing to be ashamed of. Because He takes our need and He meets us in those deep, dark places and He says "I am enough".  And you know what?? He really, really is.  

And I think that as our Father, He must just hope that we can humble ourselves and share our real, deep, dark with the people around us.  Because He's given us each other for a reason.  And it's not so that we can put on fake smiles and convince everyone that we live perfect lives.  It's so that we can be who we are, no matter what, and know that we are truly loved.  

Because that is what you and I are... truly loved.  No matter what. 

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

God Does What He Says

Here’s the story I’ll tell my friends when they come to worship,

    and punctuate it with Hallelujahs:
Shout Hallelujah, you God-worshipers;
    give glory, you sons of Jacob;
    adore him, you daughters of Israel.
He has never let you down,
    never looked the other way
    when you were being kicked around.
He has never wandered off to do his own thing;
    he has been right there, listening.

 Here in this great gathering for worship

    I have discovered this praise-life.
And I’ll do what I promised right here
    in front of the God-worshipers.
Down-and-outers sit at God’s table
    and eat their fill.
Everyone on the hunt for God
    is here, praising him.
“Live it up, from head to toe.
    Don’t ever quit!”

 From the four corners of the earth

    people are coming to their senses,
    are running back to God.
Long-lost families
    are falling on their faces before him.
God has taken charge;
    from now on he has the last word.

 All the power-mongers are before him

Along with those who never got it together

 Our children and their children

    will get in on this
As the word is passed along
    from parent to child.
Babies not yet conceived
    will hear the good news—
    that God does what he says.
- Psalm 22:22-31

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Better Together

There is one thing I know.  We are better together.  We really, really are.  We need each other.  We need each other's encouragement, strength, motivation and resources.  Alone, we can be like a crippled climber standing at the base of a mountain wondering how in the world we will ever make it up.  But together, we help each other.  We push each other out of our comfort zones.  We tell each other that yes, we can do this. Together.  

And together, we have done something beautiful for a community of 200 vulnerable children in Ethiopia.  

Back in December, I asked you all to join me in raising money to go towards new kitchen facilities for Hands for the Needy in Ethiopia.  And you did.  A lot of times, we don't get to see the direct impact of our resources and prayers.  But today, you do.  I share these pictures with you with an overwhelmingly grateful heart.  I am so thankful I am not alone in this.  I am so in awe that God has moved in hearts all over the U.S. to engage us in the cause of the oppressed and the vulnerable.  I am so, so amazed at what we can do together.  

Two years ago, I walked into Hands for the Needy and saw the cooks prepping food outside...

Sisters... can you imagine prepping meals in this environment?? And yet, it's what these women did tirelessly.

There was a small metal room where they kept their cooking supplies...

The cooks would spend hours (no exaggeration) hunched over on the ground chopping vegetables...

But now, because of you... they now have this...

Isn't it BEAUTIFUL?! This will be so much more efficient and sanitary for the cooks and the children.  Cooking for 210 kids will be so much easier with no more smoke inhalation from open fires.  I am beyond thrilled with what we have done together, friends!!  And it's all so that the sweet kiddos can enjoy healthy, nutritious meals every day...

When we look at global poverty issues, they are big, giant beasts that seem impossible to slay.  But one community at a time, we are making a difference.  These kids were eating out of the garbage dump just two years ago.  And look at them now.  Together, we can change the world.  We ARE changing the world.  Don't let anyone ever tell you that your help won't matter.  Because it does.  These kids are proof.  

I have an overflowing heart today and I wish I could thank each of you who donated in person.  You know who you are and I pray these photos will touch your heart and bolster your courage to continue to engage in helping these vulnerable children.  

Thank you, thank you, thank you.  From the bottom of my heart.  I know God has big plans for each of these kids and you are a part of making it happen.  How cool is that?! 

We are indeed, better together.  Always. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013


"When I get honest, I admit I am a bundle of paradoxes.  I believe and I doubt, I hope and get discouraged, I love and I hate, I feel bad about feeling good, I feel guilty about not feeling guilty.  I am trusting and suspicious.  I am honest and I still play games.  To live by grace means to acknowledge my whole life story, the light side and the dark.  In admitting my shadow side I learn who I am and what God's grace means.  My deepest awareness of myself is that I am deeply loved by Jesus Christ and I have done nothing to earn it or deserve it."

- Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel