30 August 2009

Clear Vision.


Blind. Couldn't hold a job. Lived on the street.


But he could see Hope - even when the crowds around him told him to shut up. He knew where Hope lived, and he reached out.

He kept reaching. And Hope reached back.

The end of the story: Bartimaeus sees.

The crowds are silenced.

10 August 2009

The Beauty of Esperanza

This morning, on a most routine visit to a local coffee shop, I saw hope.

Hope. It’s such a simple word when written down on a piece of paper or typed on to a page. Four little letters, no complexity at all in the pronunciation. Such a simple word with such profound impact.

Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life.” Proverbs 13:12

“And His name will be the hope of all the world.” Matthew 12:21

“Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.” -Romans 12:12

“Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” –Romans 15:13

“Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.” Hebrews 11:1

We hope for the best. We hope to see people we love. We love to hear stories of hope. We are inspired by hope, held up by hope, lifted high by hope. There are times when, as the song by Addison Road says, “everything rides on hope,” - when faith grows faint and hope is all we have.

“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. 4 And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. 5 And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.” - Romans 5:3-5

Today, as I walked out of the coffee shop to my car, a most gentle breeze swept quietly over me. Almost indiscernible, but it was there – touching the drought-stricken grass and parched trees on another hot August day. Almost indiscernible – except in the sway of the Esperanza flowers in front of me. The clusters of bright yellow trumpets, perched in a sea of dark green unscathed by the heat, moved with the breeze as if playing a tune to welcome it. I sat and watched the graceful motion, enamored by its beauty.

And then I saw it. Hope.

Hope is that gentle breeze that sweeps over us, that moves us. Hope is that quiet nudge that focuses us. Hope embraced opens our eyes to see, to expect.

I want to be Esperanza, welcoming hope in times of providence and in times of drought.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” – Jeremiah 29:11

06 August 2009

The 50 Blessings of a Homemade Hometown Mission Trip - Plus One

I was scheduled to lead a mission trip to Honduras this week (working with Buckner International and Show Hope). But political unrest impacted our ability to travel, and the trip has been rescheduled for next June. Rather than simply fill our time with "regular life" stuff, three of the trip participants (Ashley Meleen, Alicia Carter, and Courtney Nowakowski) and I decided to create our own homemade mission experience. We stayed at CampRockNow (my house), and served at Texas Baptist Children's Home/Children at Heart Ministries, along with spending time with a hero dad and his family (he's being deployed to Iraq, leaving his precious wife and two little girls). I have to say as we end the week, I'm a little sad it flew by so quickly. We're ready to work on homemade mission trip - the sequel.

So, our team came up with our list of the 50 blessings of a homemade hometown mission trip. Hopefully our list won't offend anyone - I mean, unless you have been in a van driving down winding roads during rainy season, you might wonder where the references to driving, signs, Dramamine, and mudslides come in. And at the end of the day, we encourage you to get off the couch, get uncomfortable, know-love-serve...in your own hometown.

1. We recycled - it IS Austin, you know.
2. We got to cook – and eat – and share our food.
3. We got to eat the veggies - and the ice.
4. We ate yummy steak and great potatoes.
5. We could read the signs, and got to drive our own cars.
6. We STILL got to eat Central American Taco Bell – tacos con papas y queso.
7. We got to define our dress code. That meant tank tops, sundresses, and shorts.
8. Dogs were welcome. And they were friendly.
9. We had cupcakes for breakfast.
10. We could – and did- put our food on the floor without fear.
11. We didn’t have to take Dramamine.
12. Diet Dr Pepper was available.
13. Food Network.
14. No international roaming or data charges (that’s HUGE).
15. We showered without flip-flops.
16. We slept in air-conditioned comfort without bug spray or mosquito nets.
17. We learned all good things start with a bag of Idahoan potatoes.
18. We played at the lake.
19. We STILL had juice boxes.
20. We STILL got to speak Spanish, and now know “el nino y su perro juegan.”
21. We didn’t have to take Dramamine.
22. We didn’t have to take Immodium.
23. We didn’t get head lice, parasites, or poison anything.
24. We weren’t held at gunpoint by strange folks with makeshift AK-47s (OK, so that has never happend, though Courtney and I did see a soldier standing with Ronald McDonald once)
25. We didn’t get delayed at the airport.
26. We didn’t have jet-lag.
27. We didn’t have that lingering fear our government would be thrown into turmoil (still praying for you, Honduras!)
28. We STILL got mission-tired and dirty and sweaty enough to have that nasty salty thing happening.
29. No curfews.
30. We STILL got to play with school supplies and backpacks.
31. We loved our banos.
32. Our camp facilities ROCKED.
33. We didn’t have to ride on a bus or a van.
34. We didn’t have to make that “I’m trying to understand” face when listening to others speak.
35. No mudslides.
36. We STILL got to Wal-Mart (note to WalMart: you may have a new logo, but you’re still WalMart).
37. No avalanches.
38. Elf without subtitles.
39. No torrential rain (OK, we would have taken a little rain).

40. We saw God in the smiles and hugs of moms and children.
41. We learned God does not call the qualified, but qualifies the called.
42. We saw God perfectly craft each and every task we were allowed to do – we each got to use our gifts and talents!
43. Not only were our prayers answered, we got to be an answer to prayer!
44. We got to care for a family and honor a hero who was going to war.
45. We got to watch a daddy really love his daughters and make them laugh.
46. We cooked meals for 14 families.
47. We baked treats for two ministry staffs.
48. We filled backpacks with school supplies for lots of kids.
49. We organized activity time for school-aged children.
50. We experienced James 1:27 full-on.
51. We found joy in NOT going to Honduras.