In Jesus’ Name

Yesterday, I saw this post in my Facebook news feed from an expat who lives in my city in Turkey:

“Just read an update from a friend that said that they offered a blanket to a refugee in the name of Jesus. The man said, ‘Who is this Jesus? Since I left home he has given me food, a place to stay and now a blanket. I want to know him.’ “

I came back several times to read the post and each time tears flooded my eyes.

As refugees began filling our city this year, I was burdened for their IMG_0805desperate conditions and never knew what I could really do to help. Often when I saw a refugee mom and her children on the street, I would duck into a market and fill a bag with milk boxes, bottles of water, apples, and crackers or cookies and then hand them over with a simple blessing in the name of Jesus. I began keeping food bags in the van, so I could hand them out the window whenever we encountered a refugee family at a stoplight. It never felt like much. It felt like a drop in a bathtub– how could I ever make a real difference when all I had was a few apples and boxes of milk to offer?

IMG_0751The post on my news feed yesterday reminded me that I never know the whole story. I am just a small part of the story God is weaving into the fabric of someone else’s life. My crackers and bottled water don’t feel like much, but when I offer them in obedience in Jesus’ name, He multiplies and provides. (See John 6:1-14 where Jesus uses a little boy’s offering of five barley loaves and two fish to feed five thousand people!)

We buy into the lie that we have to do big, awesome, life-changing things for God for it to “count”. It’s true, He wants our big yeses. He desires our obedience when He calls us to big steps– changing jobs, starting a new church, becoming foster parents, sharing the good news with a co-worker, moving to a new city, joining full-time ministry. But God wants more than our big flashy yeses.

He wants our tiny daily yeses. He wants us to pull over and help change that flat tire. He wants us to give food bags in Jesus’ name. He wants us to offer to host dinner even though our furniture is threadbare and our curtains are hand-me-downs. He wants us to pick up the tab. He wants us to smile at the tired barista at Starbucks. He wants us to deliver dinner to the sick family and greet the unfamiliar face in our pew. He wants us to cry with the hurting soul. All our little yeses are different because we are different. Your gifts and location and abilities and relationships are different than mine. But when we each put our YES on Jesus’ table each day, He gathers them all together and builds a beautiful Kingdom for His glory.

And what a magical Kingdom He builds with those yeses! It’s small IMG_0748enough to fit in the palm of a child’s hand. (Matthew 19:13-14) It’s as unruly as a garden plant that grows wherever it is. (Mark 4:30-32) It belongs to the poor in spirit. (Matthew 5:3) It’s as lavish as a wedding banquet. (Matthew 22:2) It’s as easy as loving God and people. (Mark 12:29-34) It’s as valuable as buried treasure. (Matthew 13:44) It’s not of this world (John 18:36) and yet, it’s in our midst. (Luke 17:21)

His Kingdom is at hand. (Matthew 4:17)

 

 

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So close…

fromipod 1959We finally got dates to travel to Bulgaria to bring our daughter home. In two-and-a half-weeks, I will be gathering her into my arms forever. And after all the waiting and sweating and hard labor to get to her, I might never let her go. 🙂

I haven’t had a two-year-old in three years, so I’ve spent plenty of time in the Target baby aisles lately trying to remember. Adoption is special. I don’t really know what to expect when I take my girl into my arms and escort her to our hotel room that first night. Will she cry? Will she struggle against me? Will she want to sleep with me? Will she want to be in a crib? Will she sleep all night? Will she wake upset in strange surroundings? Will she fight against diaper changes? Will she gladly rest in my arms? Will she let me wear her? Will she want the toys we have? Will she scream in public?

I remember having some similar questions as we brought new baby after new baby (after new baby) home from the hospital. What will s/he be like? Is she grumpy? Will he fuss? Will she like the bath/crib/pacifier/diaper changes? Will he cry when I’m in the grocery store and make everyone stare at me?

But this feels different. This darling little one’s personality has already taken some shape. She has already experienced great loss. And trauma. And transition. She is resilient. She is strong. She is beautiful.

But will she let me change her diaper?

I don’t know.

So, I’ve been gathering the supplies. Making the lists. Reading the blogs. Saying the prayers. Because above the Tylenol, diaper rash cream, and twinkling musical toys, I need His grace to finish this adoption well. From the first signature on our contract with our agency to the moment the judge declared us a family of six, His grace has carried us through this process, and I have no doubt He is waiting in Bulgaria to walk me through each meal time, each public outing, and each bed time in an unfamiliar hotel.

31 Days of… grace upon grace

For the next 30 days, I want to drink deeply of grace– live it, notice it, roll around in it, soak it up, breathe it, appreciate it.

The first chapter of the Gospel of John, is one of my favorite passages of Scripture. I love how John notes (in verse 16) that from the fullness of Jesus, we have all received grace upon grace. What does that mean? How can we have that much grace? Isn’t grace merely the free gift of salvation?

I plan to spend the month of October being baffled by the grace upon grace I have experienced personally. I want to revisit the definitions of words like “grace” and “truth” that are so familiar, I take them for granted. I want to marvel at the grace that was first bestowed upon me when Jesus “became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14) and then became “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). And then I want to stand back and fully appreciate the grace I experience over and over in my daily life– in my marriage, in my quiet times, in motherhood, in my family relationships, in my church, in my friendships… in everything.

I’m excited about the journey. I look forward to the reflection. I anticipate some change. I invite you along… Let’s explore grace upon grace this month!

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