When your life is a circus...

Image via flickr, Thomas Totz

I received a prayer about three years ago from a friend who prayed, "This year will mark a season of life that no matter what the enemy throws at you you will be inoculated to its effects.  No amount of slander, misunderstandings, judgment, sickness, financial troubles--ANY fiery arrow--it will roll off of you like water off of a duck's back."  Seems hopeful, right?!  That word was indeed tested over & over again.

Sometimes it seems like in order for the promise to come to pass you have to endure the process.  The glorious process.

The one where some days are so crummy you hide your face in your pillow to shed a few quick tears without your kids hearing you, or those days of sheer exhaustion no amount of communication that flies out of your mouth will be words that you won't surely be apologizing for the following day, or those days where you CHOSE TO HOMESCHOOL impossible math and feel like running through glass for a sense of relief! (Wait, you've never had that thought!?  Weird!)  Indeed there are also days where you literally and figuratively climb a mountain or do something you previously deemed an impossibility.  In our HIGHEST highs and our lowest lows, the process invites us into friendship with God and what a sweet journey it is!

In the throws of the process we can oftentimes forget and begin to think there just might not be another side to this mountain.  Even though you are fully aware you've never endured a winter without a spring, there are days it feels like you just won't get through the other side of THIS--whatever your THIS may be!  Some days I encounter mind-numbing corruption, others I engage poverty in its worst form, other days I engage the hollow hearts of some of the wealthiest people I encounter, lots of days I escape to the Beauty of the beach, or stare at the "green screen" of my backyard.  (FYI--there's a gorgeous mountain in it and it just DOESN'T SEEM REAL!)

Yesterday was just one of those days.  It's silly, really.

To get you in the correct headspace I want to briefly describe our home.  Our home could be likened to a circus up-start--all the ingredients for a successful show but very little TAMING of the wild cats.  Our (currently) family of seven also has three adult women living in our home.  They are gracious, kind, helpful and mostly scared of their wild, safari-like environment.

A 24-hour glimpse:

6am--I am SHUTTING my eyes for the first time all night as the house begins to stir.  The baby was BRIGHT-EYED and DIRTY-PANTS'D alllllll night long.  In a desperate move I passed him off like a hot potato when the clock strikes half past five like my WHOLE LIFE depends on it.

9am--Husband barges into the room (Everything is louder when you're sleeping, therefore I'm standing my ground with BARGING IN!) to give me a run-down of the DETAILS of our day.  "Yipee--details and schedules and PLANS...my absolute FAVORITE!"--said me, NEVER!  On the agenda for the day: three meetings, a basketball practice, a grocery run and a litany of people requiring a timely response.  This is going to be AWESOME on three hours of sleep.  I said a quick hail mary that I wouldn't manifest all day long.  One can always wish upon a star.  ;)

10am--I have heard for the 4,812th time about the "great oil spill of 1989."  Man, those were hard times.  My son followed these repeated stories of the "great oil spill of 1989" by grabbing the olive oil in the pantry and asking if he could maybe put it ALL OVER THE FLOOR to see what the "great oil spill of 1989" was like.  One thing is not like the other and my olive oil is 15 BONES therefore PUT THAT GOLD DOWN if you care about your life.  Homeschool.  I just can't.

10:15am--Change Uya-TOOT-wa's diaper for the upteenth time.  This time though he went for a world record and poop darted out of him all the way to his hair.  Impressive buddy, I'm sure there's an award for that somewhere.  By all means, I'd love to change your clothes again.  It's so easy and all.

10:17am--Get peed on.  Change my clothes.  Get spit-up on.

11:57am--The beggings of the starving are beckoning.  Clearly, they've never been fed and rise up like an ARMY of DOGS barking and panting for their next meal like their ENTIRE EXISTENCE depends on it.  Geez, pipe down.  Get spit-up on.

12:30pm--SHOWER and pretend like I just woke up and this awesome day is only going to get better! Get spit-up on.

1:15pm--Begin wrestling the likes of the strongest 2-year-old in all of the world.  It's naptime and by NO MEANS is she going down without a FIGHT.  We call her #wildcat for her ferocious spirit and ear-piercing pipes.

1:30pm--Meeting in my living room. (In fact, a small highlight of the day<--said me, only ONCE... EVER)!  Get spit-up on TIMES TEN MILLION.

2:45pm--Must. RACE. to. dance. class.  I like to call these next 20 minutes, The Tale of the Missing Leotard, which is a perfect pairing for the other read, The Impending Doom of Being Late--AGAIN.  These reads can only truly be appreciated with their accompanying soundtrack, "The Crocodile Tears of the Miserable Seven Year Old."  These precious moments are followed by MOMMY-DAUGHTER "hair time."  "Hair time" is H-E-DOUBLE HOCKEY STICKS time!  While wailing ensues my mind drifts off to all of those Instagram posts of mothers who LOVE to brush their girl's hair. I imagine them brushing their perfectly clean, tangle-free daughter's hair while worshiping to "Shine, Jesus, Shine!" and whispering in their perfectly calm child's ear, "Oh what a sweet dream come true!"  Yet, all I can think is, "I don't care if small, WILD, untamed animals start living inside of these tangles, I am NEVER EVER EVER taking a brush to your head AGAIN!  By all means, sow your wild oats and start those dreads TODAY, child!  With every bobby pin insertion I am reminded of how horrible I really am.

3:30pm--Enjoy about 20 minutes of silence and do some patchwork on the sewing machine--because having the hobby of a 75-year-old is my only SANITY.

4:45pm--Begin texting your husband like a crack addict in need of a fix asking desperately begging if he can teleport home because in another minute I might collapse from exhaustion.  Get spit-up on.

5:00pm--Smiling & peaceful husband arrives.

5:01pm--Crawl into bed and pretend like my bedroom is sound-proof from the toddler-hollers & elementary-aged bickering.  SLEEP!  SWEET SLEEP!


6:42pm--Sweet friend offering to bring me my favorite meal.  BRIGHT SPOT.  The fog will indeed clear with a nap and FOOD.  It's like the fairy dust for bad attitudes.

6:43pm--Husband is leaving again for next thing, wailing 7-year-old is begging (literally on her knees) to accompany her daddy for the next few hours.  Don't let me stop you!  RUN!  Get in the car before he leaves like it's the last helicopter out of Vietnam!

7:15pm--Ignore the tornadic damage done to the kitchen at dinnertime.  If you squint hard enough it can, after all, appear clean.  That is, if squinting hard enough actually means closing your eyes and dreaming of Pinterest-worthy kitchen makeovers.

7:20pm--Enjoy fun conversation with housemate.  She's calm and an ADULT so any conversation is incredibly WELCOME.  Although I look haphazard she ignores my appearance and we indulge in pleasantries about our day.  I make up a few.

7:29pm--Receive phone call from husband asking me to look in car for my purse because we "MIGHT" have been broken into and my purse "MIGHT" have been stolen.  Optimism has its place but not when discussing my brand-new Christmas purse was stolen with all other purse trappings and by GOLLY, my BRAND-NEW LIPSTICK while beginning his opening arguments with an, "I swear I locked it."  WHAT ABOUT LOCKING IT MATTERS WHEN YOU LEAVE THE HANDBAG IN THE PASSENGER SEAT!?  But, I digress, he feels bad.  After all, he was buying birthday flowers for a friend when he was broken into.  Isn't ANYTHING sacred!?

7:30pm--Frantically call America to cancel credit cards and mentally race about that sweet picture of my brother and I that I have always kept in said missing wallet for years.  What could any thief possibly want with my stuff?  Credit cards are canceled, I don't carry cash, so just give me my STUFF BACK!

7:31pm--Friend arrives with favorite dinner.

7:32pm--Threaten kids to silence under penalty of 15 years of HARD LABOR!

7:33pm--Form tackle toddler to wrangle into bed.  She is bucking like a wild horse & screaming like she was just shanked.

7:59pm--Quickly look up Romans 8:28 wholly convinced that I had memorized it incorrectly all these years.  Fully expecting it to read, "And we know that [MOST EVERYTHING, ON PERFECT DAYS] God works for the good of those who love him, who are called according to His purpose."
To my shock and dismay I realize the words on the page have not, in fact, changed and His promise remains in every sticky process, "And we know that in ALL THINGS God works for the good of those who love him."  ALL THINGS!??!  ALLLLLLL THINGS!?  Even, this?

8:00pm--Begin to calm down and realize that being stolen from, although is lame, doesn't get to dictate my perspective.  God is still good.  It's just stuff.

My days aren't extraordinary.  They're definitely nothing to write home about, though clearly I'm doing just that, they just are.  In the moments, in the details, God sees and knows.  He never leaves or withholds.  Just because my life isn't a picture of Hollywood perfection, maybe--just maybe, I like my version better even with all of its mishaps.  Maybe I wouldn't trade these moments, these highs and lows, for anything else in all of the world because I can meet God in the dirty, exhausting, mind-altering frustration of the menial & mundane.  The devil looks for every opportunity to steal our joy.  We can respond in like or we can choose to see God's hand in the midst of the muck.  He deals quite perfectly in our mess and is quite comfortable entering into our mud and pulling us out.

He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. 
Psalm 40:2

What if God is un-phased by my flailing? What if He isn't shaken by my frail state?  What if He loves me just the same on my worst days?  What if I don't have to try and He's just there, readily available to wipe every tear (or spit-up stain)?

That thought surely can inoculate me from all the fiery arrows.

He holds ALL THINGS together, least of all me.

He is before all things and in Him all things hold together.  Colossians 1:17

11:00pm--do exactly this.

Can I get an AMEN!?

Sweet dreams everyone!

Disclaimer:  I love my herd of wild cats children.  No one was harmed in the making of our day.  You need not worry about my sanity, or you could fall to your knees, hide yourself in a closet and plead for it.  Whatever floats your boat, really!  Also, please be so kind as to excuse my atrocious grammar.  Instead, pray fervently for my children's education.  


The story of His Glory!

As I sit here today I can’t help but think of all the days spent dreaming of being right where I am, in this moment.  We are birthing a new baby church, growing a team of incredible friends, enjoying our beautiful city and reveling in His goodness and His perfect timing day in and day out. 

It’s a bit shocking to us the opportunities God has afforded us in our short time here.  We have met and disciple many future leaders of not only South Africa but the nations of Africa.  We have been afforded the privilege to utilize Jason’s education as a lawyer to combat sex-trafficking through consulting on cases, raising awareness at the university and joining brave men & women who fight on behalf of the oppressed day in & day out.

My favorite story though is one I will never forget and the purpose of this post.  This story is one worth sharing over and over again. 

One day standing in the kitchen, a teammate & roommate, Carmen, received a text message from a young woman in our college Lifegroup.  She had found herself in a situation she had no idea how to handle or escape.  She felt as though there was only one way out.  She informed Carmen of her pregnancy and her decision to terminate it.  Having very little time to prepare for what we would say or do in response we called upon the masses to PRAY!  We went to speak with the timid and fragile girl.  In her presence I quickly saw everything she was made to be, the power and influence that a life submitted to Jesus could result in and the humility to win the hearts of men & women worldwide.  I suddenly was full of faith for this young woman’s life.  How do you tell a 19 year old that her pregnancy is a gift in the face of family rejection, society scorn and friendly judgment?  It will, in no small way, change the course of her entire life.  Yet, there I was, having only met her once before, begging for the life of her baby.  I had decided many years ago that people’s decisions could not dictate my ability to LOVE.  So, that being said, at the end of the day, no matter what she decided to do I would love. However, far be it from me (and Carmen!) to let the opportunity pass where we did not literally beg for her baby’s life.  She adamantly told me she had made her decision.  I squealed and squawked for her to “CHANGE HER MIND!” -- to no avail.  Our conversation ended with a termination appointment looming in 12 hours, so we prayed for the TANGIBLE presence of Jesus Himself to fill her room, speak to her, love her, whisper His protection over her, give her revelation of His unchanging, unmoving love for her and His Promise to take care of her baby no matter what! 

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” –Ephesians 3:20-21

We came home and prayed more, wept some and awoke to the news that our friend had encountered something during the night that only the Bible describes so plainly.  God had moved on her behalf and restored her to Himself.  She was indeed going to keep her baby.  In her words, “Who am I to tell God that I know any better than him?”  There was a radical and quick obedience despite the impending scorn.  She looked at the cost and said to her child, “You are worth it.”

“For I know the plans I have for you.  Plans to prosper you and not to harm you.  Plans to give you a hope and a future.” –Jeremiah 29:11

Her name is Zintle.  (Zin-slay)  Her name means, “They are beautiful.”

Zintle & Selah at her shower. February 28, 2015

This is Uyathandwa.
Isn’t he perfect in every way?
(Oo-yuh-tahn-dwuh) this is entertaining because I have no idea how to phonetically spell anything!)
He came out as a worshiper!  VICTORY! (March 2, 2015)
A tiny miracle weighing in as a 5.5lb heavyweight.

Leaving the hospital. March 5, 2015
God gives the best gifts.

“See I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?  I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” –Isaiah 43:19
There have been many questions and concerns.  How long will he be with us?  Most likely Uya will be with us for a couple of months until he goes to live with extended family who are eagerly awaiting their opportunity to love on him!  After much prayer we have decided that the future heartache doesn’t dictate our behavior.  We risk love because he’s worth it.  We risk separation from a boy we will love as our own because LOVE enters into every situation, it rushes in unhindered, always willing, no matter the outcome.  If I weighed every decision based on my controlled and calculated assessment of the heartache and risk ahead I wouldn’t truly live.  My only stance, my only choice can be love because of what Jesus Christ has done for me.  

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” –Romans 8:28

Please be praying for us as we journey into the unknown.  We love this baby boy.  We love his mama.  We are humbled by God’s willingness to entrust us with his precious life for whatever amount of time he will be with us.  However, let’s be real, I often make Zintle promise me that even when he’s sixteen that he can spend the night on occasion.  ;) 

The generosity of the masses for the sake of the one has always been something that has blown my mind.  Thank you friends and family for coming around us financially, emotionally & practically to see this future world-changer born into care, celebration, belief and unshakable love.

On behalf of his beautiful mama, Zintle, and our family, we are forever thankful.

May God receive ALL the glory from this precious life.

“Take delight in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.”-Psalm 37:4

Selah's message for her new baby "brother"