Nothing?

The idea of missions has always excited me.

This idea of being GREAT for the Lord.

I hear stories about Billy Graham and the thousands and thousands of people he’s led to Christ. Mother Theresa and the millions of lives she touched. The young Katie Davis who is devoting her life to the people of Uganda and changing the lives of hundreds and hundreds. She has thousands who read her blog.

All of that is exciting! It’s exhilarating. How great the Lord has used these people. I would commit my life to that in a second. ‘Here am I; send me”!!!

But what if His calling for me is to be nothing for Him. What if my purpose in life is to serve and love and pour myself out but never to see the fruit this side of heaven? What if no one remembers my name? What if no books about me are written? No movie drafted in my honor? What then? What if God calls me to some remote place to spend all of my days loving on people and not one of them becomes a believer in my lifetime? What if he calls me to have a 9 – 5 job for the rest of my life and serve my co-workers but not harvest the fruit?

Doesn’t sound very glamorous. It’s sounds excruciatingly hard.

But what if that were my calling? It very well could be…

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” Col 3:23-24

Am I willing to be nothing for Him?

Places

‎”The hardest places to leave are the places God leads us to. Because those are the places where you are shaped and molded into a new person. Those are the places where your heart expands, your minds open to new perspectives, and your eyes begin to really see.” –Environments of Grace

My focus was so narrow before Iraq, I wasn’t able to see how much bigger the world was than my itty bitty bubble of a life. My world centered around me, my private school education, my “faith” based pedastool and my yearning to be perceived as a “good” Christian girl. I had no idea my perspective was so off. I loved the Lord; I loved people; I loved serving. I really thought I had it figured out. I thought I knew what it was to be a Christian; I thought I truly knew what it meant to follow after Him.

But I didn’t.

I made things so complicated when it came to Faith. I was a Pharisee, putting so many rules and restrictions on what being a Christian was suppose to look like. In my naivety, a person of faith was suppose to look a certain way, walk and talk a certain way. I condemned those, though not realizing it, for not fitting into my guidelines. The qualities I attributed as necessities of walking with Christ had WAY more to do with my West Texas-itty bitty bubble of a culture and WAY less to do with what it means to follow Christ. It’s like a veil was taken off my eyes and I realized how much more complicated I was making things than what God had intended.

Living overseas taught me how to love people better, even when they’re difficult to love. It taught me how to live in community instead of pushing away when things get difficult. It made me realize that others think and view things completely different based on where they’ve been. And that understanding the way a person thinks and views life is the key to helping them understand the love of Christ. It made me not want to settle into a normal life living the American dream. And it made the old aspirations of what I thought I wanted in life dim in comparison to how HE could use my life. Living in Iraq made me realize how crucial it is to depend on the Lord and yearn after Him and how scary it is when you don’t.

I DEFINITELY haven’t arrived. If anything I’ve realized now how much I will never completely understand about the Lord this side of heaven. How much I have to be dependent on Him because I know absolutely nothing.

There are days I miss that country so much I can barely breathe. My six months in Iraq were HARD. That time was exhausting. Painful. Draining. Stretching. Uncomfortable. Maturing. Humbling. Joyful. Exciting. Revealing. And full.   I’m humbled that God was so incredibly gracious enough to me to take me half way around the world to shape and mold me into a new person, expand my mind to new perspectives, and open my eyes so that I may see. How great is the Father’s love that He would take me halfway around the world so that I can know Him better?!?

Simply amazing.

Open our eyes

“I try to avoid seeing pictures of those starving people. It’s too depressing. I would rather see the pictures of safari animals.”

A good friend of mine recently took a trip to Kenya and Uganda. Yesterday at work, I sat on my computer sifting through pictures of her recent trip. My heart aching at the sight of these orphans – hungry for food and love. Wishing with everything in me I knew how to teleport so I could hold them for a while. Love on this one and that one. Put hope in his beautiful chocolate eyes. Tickle them relentlessly just to hear joy in their laughter. Shower her with kisses and tell her of One who will never leave nor forsake – no matter who in her past has done just that.

At one point a co-worker passed by my desk and made the off the cuff statement at the top of this post. I’m sure she didn’t mean anything by it – she is a sweet and good-natured person. But it took everything in me to not explode at that moment. I was fuming inside. ‘What do you mean you try to avoid them?  What if that was your son – your mother – your sister???  What if that was you?!?’

Why do we close our eyes from the difficult? Why do we choose not to see? Is it easier to look the other way? Less uncomfortable? Does it seem too overwhelming?

Yes.

Does choosing to open our eyes cause us pain? Does it stretch us? Require us to spend ourselves for someone else?

Yes.

Is it too much to handle? Is there too much hurt? Is it impossible to make a difference?

Absolutely not.

I think we have this whole thing backwards. Maybe we are afraid to pour ourselves out because in doing so we believe we won’t have enough for us. But what if the very act of taking on someone else’s burden and giving away is the exact thing that fills our cup to overflowing? That brings us joy? What if giving away is the key to contentment?

“If you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.
The LORD will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.
Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.”  -Isaiah 58:10-12

Friends. Let us open our eyes. Let us choose to see.

 The most severe drought in decades is threatening the lives of more than 11 million people — especially young children — in the Horn of Africa. Famine has been declared in parts of southern Somalia, and threatens to spread further if nothing is done to prevent it. Kenya and Ethiopia are also severely affected by the crisis, with millions in critical need of food and water. World Vision has launched an emergency response to the drought and food crisis, working to provide life-saving essentials to the most vulnerable children and families . . .Thanks to government grants, your gift today can multiply up to 5 times in impact to help provide emergency food, clean water, agricultural support, healthcare, and other vital assistance to children and families in need.

“We Will Not Stop”

This video is of Estrella Rosenberg, the founder of Big Love Little Hearts  – an organization founded to bridge the gap in the congenital heart defect community – the overwhelming number of children in developing countries who needed heart surgery to live and weren’t able to find it.

It’s people like this who make real change. Those with the perfect mixture of passion and unrelenting, unstoppable hard work. Those who refuse to quit.

Hours to go

… until I leave this country that I have come to love.
This country and culture that is oddly somewhat normal to me now.
It doesn’t seem real, feels like pretend.

The past several days have been full of goodbyes. I hate them. Somehow there aren’t adequate words to depart from a friend turned family member whom I might never see again.

I feel numb towards it all. I’m not sure what else I can say and so I will leave you with a handful of ‘good-bye’ pictures:

With Shohan and Angel in our 'maxi' dresses

Braiding Emma's hair on Thanksgiving morning

Braiding Emma's hair on Thanksgiving morning

With Nageen (left) and her sister at a cafe

With Nageen (left) and her sister at a cafe

Sweet Suzan

Sweet Suzan

Trehan and Aria - a PLC kid

Trehan and Aria - a PLC kid

Brooke

Brooke

Samana and her 3 month baby Tnook

Samana and her 3 month baby Tnook

Kanar - the hardest good-bye is yet to come

Kanar - the hardest good-bye is yet to come

Hopefully these photos can describe what i’m at a loss for words to say. (A picture says a thousand of them right?)

There are so many more stories to tell. Please continue to read as I will be telling many more of them in the days to come.

No More ICU

Quick Update:

Vary in ICU

Honya Sleeping in ICU

These are both taken when Honya and Vary were in ICU.

BUT…
They were both released from ICU into their own private rooms with their moms today!

Also, Mohammad is back in Iraq with his family.

Read more on Preemptive Love’s Blog:
http://preemptivelove.org/blog/

Also, just wanted to give credit to Joshua Gigliotti.
All of the pictures on my blog from Turkey are his and they are incredible!

-Tonight, just in awe of the work of God’s hands.

Nothing But Good News

God is the giver of good gifts.
If nothing else, I’ve learned this today.

Mohammad is in his own private room in the hospital and boards a plane tomorrow to come back home!
Mohammad Coloring

Beautiful baby Honya had surgery this morning.

Honya 1

Mom Kissing Honya

At just 12 pounds, she went into surgery this morning at 10:30.
Her mother watched as she was carried away, doing her best to be strong.

I’ve tried to place myself in the shoes of these moms.
These moms who are hoping for a miracle for their children, their children who are under a death sentence.
These mothers are in a foreign land.
Surrounded by a foreign language and culture.
Sleeping in a room by themselves, many for the first time in their lives.
Putting the care of their dying children into the hands of Turkish doctors and nurses.
The people who they’ve been told are the enemy.

I can’t imagine the uncertainty and fear they must feel.
The enormous amount of helplessness.

My prayer is that during this time, this time of fear, that God would reveal himself to them. And that they would have no choice but to cling to Him.

Honya’s surgery went beautifully.
No complications.
She is resting now in ICU.
Dr. Cicek is hopeful to extubate her tonight or tomorrow.

Praise God!

Honya ICU

Honya & Wires

Vary also had surgery today.
Hers was the scariest surgery of all.

Vary

Upon finding more problems with her heart, the surgery become far more complicated.

The doctors had to cool her body down to 16 degrees Celsius,
drain the blood from her body,
resect a portion of the artery dangerously close to a nerve that could leave Vary with neurological damage,
pump the blood back into her tiny body,
warm her back up
and restart her heart.

The surgery went perfectly.
Not only that. . .
but it was a full correction.
She will not have to have another heart surgery!

Friends
Thank you for your prayers.
Thank you beyond words.

But please don’t stop praying for these children.
Though the surgery is over
Though Dr. Cicek has fixed their hearts.
Now it’s their turn.
They have to fight for life.

-In awe of the graciousness of God

Find out more @ http://preemptivelove.org/blog/

Baby Honya Headed to Surgery

Honya in Hospital

This precious and fragile baby girl gets her chance at life in about 6 hours.
She is still sick with a lung infection but the pediatrician and cardiologist have both cleared her for surgery.

I have fallen in love with her.
I have never wanted life for a child as much as I want it for this beautiful girl.

But the Lord cares for her a million times more than I ever could.

God is in control.

Pray that Honya’s tiny body wants to fight for life.
Pray that God would give Dr.Cicek wisdom in surgery.
Pray peace over Honya’s mother and family as they face the most difficult 4 hours of their lives.
Pray that ultimately God would be glorified and made known whatever the outcome.

Honya

-Heavy heart for this sweet little girl.

Mohammad’s Surgery: A Complete Success

Mohammad received his long awaited surgery this morning.
Doctors repaired a huge hole in the upper chambers of his heart.
No problems.
A full correction!
He is now recovering in ICU.

Mohammed to Surgery

Headed to Surgery

Mohammed Bracelet

Mohammed

Mohammad's Mom

Praying for her eldest son

ICU

Recovering in ICU

Vary has had a tough time the past few days.
She is very fearful of her new surroundings
keenly aware of things going on around her.
The nurses had to sedate her to complete an echo.
Discovered coarctation as well as her VSD
This surgery is so much bigger than previously thought.

Baby Honya is quarantine with a right lung infection.
Pediatrician visited her today and isn’t too worried about it.
She is still all smiles and giggles
Good chance for surgery on Monday!

One surgery down, two to go.
Thank you for your prayers.
And good night from Iraq.