Saturday, August 22, 2015

another desert visit

One day we drove from our first friend's place out farther into the desert to visit Matt's former tutor and his wife and baby...  Matt and Isaiah visited these friends three summers ago.

We drove through a canyon with these caves at the end, just before we reached their town...

Taken from the same place as the shot above, just looking outward from the canyon...  such beauty!  (And... check out the 150+ oil rigs across the plane beyond town there!)

cemetery on the way into town

the flaming mountains and their vineyard village

if a picture could capture heat... this one shows it pretty well.  

Since Isaiah has raved about the desert since his trip with Daddy years ago, all the kids wanted some time to run on the sand slopes.

This little beauty, with the traditional beautification of her sadly separated eyebrows, was named after the first woman to be martyred for Islam.  Oh how we love these dear friends!!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Visit with A friend...

Such a joy for us to get to drive just three hours from our city home out into the desert to be in this vineyard-packed land, one of the hottest cities in the world.  I'm *pretty*crazy*grateful that we didn't try to visit here last month when temps were around 120 degrees and there's no electric relief.  (Our friends had this fan but our host was too concerned for our health, not wanting to give us pain in our bones, so she blessed us with not turning it on.)  So grateful it was only around 100 for us while were there this week.

First thing any local mom needs to do to welcome her son and his friends...  Feed Them.  And she fed us well.  A heaping plate of lamb and yellow carrots, polo (rice with more lamb and carrots), and tomato cucumber salad and nan... lots and endless lots of nan.

He told us on the drive out here that there's a pool right across the street from his house.  Turns out it was on the other side of his driveway... the perfect, private, retention pond for saving water for their vineyard and orchard.  (Because the irrigation water only comes through the ditches to their property about twice a month.)  *Pure Bliss* for our kiddos!

Our dear friend and his precious mama... such gracious hosts!!
And at the end of the driveway... the mud house that was built for drying grapes but was being used instead as a home for about a hundred pigeons.  John came alive on this trip as our fearless lover of animals.... so fun to see him grow into this good strength.  

Once the sun was past it's fury, we walked into the village...a journey of about 200 yards. But first A showed us his father's whole property and the wall he built around it himself.
In the courtyard of the home where his father was born and where he played every summer of his childhood

a slice of town...  grape vineyards in every direction and shady with trees in the village center where the irrigation ditches run full every day- I think.  (Runoff from the mountains is the life source of this whole region.)  
love this boy...

5:30 AM.  Sunshine on the girls bed...  so pleasantly cool from about 11pm- 5am.  
The boys all slept on mats on their platform bed on the other side of the patio.  

Morning light on the breakfast table...
heaped with nan sticks (as our kids called the cracker swirly stuff), grapes (of course!) and store bought cookies (a specialty brought in from the city for the festival last month), dried fruit and nuts, honey and homemade jam, spicy chips and candy.   How about that!?
This morning, I left the kids and Matt behind trimming grape branches in the vineyard and I walked through the village again...
... And I met some of the dearest kids...  This sweetheart is just one week older than Marian.  She shared her birthday candle with us, the prize of her day. 
Our hosts know every person in this village and are most likely related to them all 200ish of them within a few generations...
mama to the baby above
Who needs air conditioning when you can lay your mat right over the water for cooling?  It amazed Matt and I how public these beds were.   Many beds were placed right alongside the road where cars would drive by all hours...

But if roadside doesn't suit you, I guess this is where you can put your bed if you don't want headlights in your faces or horns blaring, swerving close...  
The village had paths wide enough for a small mianbaoche (a very petite truck) to fit but the paths most comfortably fit walkers or small three wheeled motorbike-trucks.  

a traditional bread oven

I continually felt amazed at how very large these middle rooms were inside these homes...  tall ceilings and open walls for air flow and private rooms attached all around.  

And if you think this driver looks young, on the way back after unloading these grapes, the girl in pink who is holding the little baby drove (while the big girl read from her cell phone!)

This woman, our dear friend's mom, has become a local grandma to our kids.  This was the last meal she made for us before we drove home...  Marian beamed with pride that she has learned to make noodles from the best cook ever and our local grandma boasted with perfect grand-graciousness... "hmm, I really think your noodles are the tastiest ever!"

the weekly village bazaar

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Dear Friend whose had an abortion,

So much in the news lately, and these videos, and even what you've read on this blog, it can hit you straight up.  In-the-face, undeniable evidence of life, brains, beating hearts, wiggly fingers and toes, it can all burn in your throat and you can feel shrapnel through your heart.  

I don't want you to stay there, friend, burning with confusion or anger or regret.  Will you stay with me for a few more minutes?  

What I didn't say earlier about my hero mama, who so valiantly chose life for me, is that she had chosen abortion previously.  It seemed then that was her only option.  It made sense to her and she was told it was the best choice.  She lived with the grief of that child's life and the weight of it never just disappeared like they said the "fetal tissue" would.

Maybe it feels mean for anyone to be pointing out what's going on in this quick, should-be private procedure?  Maybe it feels unmerciful, unkind to acknowledge that abortion is murder because it would be easy and we could all smile nicely if we just called it a necessary procedure and left it alone.  Don't look into it any further, please.  And don't look at me.

Is that how you're feeling?

My mama knew it all too well....

And there's all this hope and desire to protect and praise life and does it all sound Wrong in your heart when you hear it?   How a mom choosing life "didn't take the cowardly way out."  But I can imagine you don't feel like you chose cowardly either.  It takes bravery to walk into an abortion clinic too and being told there's just tissue in there, why not just get it over with?  Even with all the lies that were fed to you, I doubt it felt like an easy thing to go through with, or to tell a friend about it, or to read this with your name tucked invisibly in that Dear Friend line at the top.

Or maybe, you're different?  Maybe you knew "it" was a baby. Yea, that was a beating heart, a waving hand.  It was alive and now it's .....

But the thing is, there's this deep conviction and its meant to bring peace, and it's black and white on the pages of this Book that you can trust, that the grace and forgiveness and true love of God, the Maker of Life, is ready to be poured out in abundance on you and on all of us who acknowledge our brokenness, neediness, and face up to our guilt.  Staring down this sin and calling it what it is, is meant as a rescue... for you too.   

Hiding it or legitimizing will never bring you peace.

I want you to know that all the energy poured out as "Pro-Life," it should be aimed at you too...Pro-You.  Your life, your heart, your home.  Not in some get-you-rich-fast, make you hot and hotter kind of way, but in a your-life-matters-infinetly-to-God, so much that he gave His Son to die as your ransom... in that way.  That is how God is and His church should be totally Pro-You.  

Political groups and churches and all of us individuals fail and fail miserably and fail often and I'm sorry.  So sorry.  We haven't always shown you that none of us have anything to stand on if we don't stand on grace.  But it's true.

There's grace for you.

Like there was for this guy ages ago who persecuted and approved of deaths and stood by to watch the slow agonizing death of one lover of Jesus named Stephen.  (See Acts 7:58-8:3 and Acts 9:1-19) God blinded him with an earth-shattering vision of who He is and who it was that this persecutor was killing.  Then God picked him up, transformed him with His love, and used him to powerfully build and bless His people, His church, for millennia after that.   

Now you've been having visions, or watching videos, and it's shattering you too?  How will you respond?  What might God do through your life picked up from this wreckage and offered wholly to Him?  Made whole again in Him?

The thing is, that facing up to our need, our brokenness and mistakes, acknowledging the reality of what abortion is and "what have I done?"...  its this step that we all need, for all of our broken places, to be made whole, be made new.    John Piper says, in discussing with popular rapper Lecrae, how he urged a former girlfriend to abort his child, "if [we] don't come out of the darkness, then [we] can't have the sweetness of forgiveness.  The gospel teaches us how to live, but it also rescues us when we fail to live as we're supposed to."  

It's in seeing our sin that we can see our need for a Savior... And the great news is, He is ready to save.  Ready to take your fear, guilt, grief, your regret, hatred and anger, and trade it to you for His humble love, His totally freeing free forgiveness.  For new life with a new, knowing and gracious Lord.  No more slave master of fear and guilt and lies.  He is ready to show you His true, forgiving and forever love.

Please friend, never be afraid to say that you messed up, that you were wrong.   Whether you fell fool to the lies that abortion is nothing...  Or if you knew that you knew this was your baby.  For all of us, forgiveness reaches our deepest and darkest and God isn't turned away by our filth.  

I'm ready too, with a list of my junk to share and we can lay it down together, rejoicing with that guy Saul (turned to Paul,) that we who have sinned much, could be forgiven much.  That we could be so greatly loved.

So the point in the plainness of all this talk of the horror of abortion, is so that there may be a clear and focused mirror to see the truth of our sin and to drive and draw each of us, from every broken background, into the truth and love of a God who knows and sees and saves us from the muck we've made of ourselves.

I hope you won't feel turned away.   You belong right with the whole party of sinners forgiven and loved not because we're good enough but because his love is great enough.  This is where Life begins.  You are loved.  You are loved.  Come to Him.  

Friend, if you email me or comment, I'd love to reply to you.  And if you want to learn more on your own about God,  you can view the story of God's love here.

Monday, August 10, 2015

#unplannedparenthood {my birth story}

I was the totally unplanned bundle
the Lord knit together
and breathed into life forever
while he nurtured and developed me
inside her womb.
For me it was a comfy room
to grow.

They told her, he told her
"just have an abortion"
"a single woman can't be bothered"
"I'm married already,
I can't be a father"
to this little living one.

Did they know what that meant?
Did they know that meant death?
It was my beating heart,
my eyes and smile, my brain
that would have been crushed?
that would have been slain?

But she kept me, and loved me
and chose to be bothered
with nine months of stretching
and aching alone.
She chose to give birth
and to give me a home.
She raised me and loved me,
and now I'm all grown
a lover of life
a servant of God,
insanely blessed wife,
mother of four,
and hopeful servant
to many more.

And this whole abortion thing?
O Lord move us to action!
May we, your people,
rush out with compassion
to care for each life,
of mother and child,
to exhort fathers too,
to stick around for a while.

"Come together and see the good plan
of the One who first made
both the woman and man.
He made sex great and
He knows how its best
and his plans for us
are truly to bless.
Oh come to the One
who creates life.
Fear Him who is
both Author
and Judge.
Oh Come to Him
who came to us
who died to show us
His True Love."

Monday, August 3, 2015

In Defense of Little Living Ones

See if you can get through this without gasping in awe and marvel.

Truly magnificent fuel here for worshipping the Creator and for compelling His church to loving action to protect these lives.  May it be!

(Grateful HT to Justin Taylor)

From an article by Francis Beckwith, author of Defending Life:  A Moral and Legal Case Against Abortion.

"There is hence no doubt that the development of a unique individual human life begins at conception. It is vital that you — the reader — understand that
  • you did not come from a zygote, you once were a zygote;
  • you did not come from an embryo, you once were an embryo;
  • you did not come from a fetus, you once were a fetus;
  • you did not come from an adolescent, you once were an adolescent.
Consequently, each one of us has experienced these various developmental stages of life. None of these stages, however, imparted to us our humanity."