Balloons

Inspiration – “The Breath of God”
a :  a divine influence or action on a person believed to qualify him or her to receive and communicate sacred revelation
b :  the action or power of moving the intellect or emotions
c :  the act of influencing or suggesting opinions
2:  the act of drawing in; specifically :  the drawing of air into the lungs

11009935_10155533330895525_7008491709886706110_oDo you like balloon animals? Or not just animals, balloons in themselves?? You know, I can’t resist them. I also find that every kid and adult wants to play with them. We can be amazed how artist shape and create with them. We can be held captive that they can be made into animals, shapes, objects, and some balloons can be made to carry people.

    You have various types of balloons. Round ones, big ones, small ones, long ones. There are water-balloons, party balloons… There are Hot Air-balloons and helium balloons which can be made to carry objects and or people.
    The thing about balloons is they have no control of themselves, but drift with the wind and current. 18893248_10212663855048689_5145219435610478307_nThey rise and fall with the temperature and with the drafts, or the forces that influence their direction.
    The balloons themselves cannot take credit for what they are, or what they do. They can only be blown up, twisted and tied by the one who is in control and used for it’s intended purpose.
    I am not in-control. I am not too sure that I am one of theses balloons. Sometimes, I feel I am being twisted and distorted into some shape. I can feel the twists and bending of the Master’s hands, but can’t tell what form I am taking. I have seen some balloons pop while being twisted to much, or having to much air, and I can’t help but to wonder if I am at this point.
    I can feel the pressure, the stretching.. One more twist and it’s over. But He isn’t done. No, I think I am more than just this one balloon. I am being fashioned with many.. Each part of me is a separate color and shape. He is bending every part of me. He is twisting and tying every part into a sequence. And there are areas that He has blown up and twisted that could not handle the pressure. Areas where the pressure was greater than the fabric of my being, and those areas have given way. They have burst under the hand of the Master.
    I ask for peace and rest, and His hands give form by bending my will. I ask for comfort from the areas that have popped, and what happens is be ties on another.. Reshaping. Reconstructing.. As one poet put it, being compared to a living sacrifice, “I crawl off the offer and with my smoke-filled lungs I cry for freedom.”
29965_1440302815978_1138054_n    Why can’t I be filled with helium. People love helium balloons. They are used for parties, and decorations. Kids and adults will suck in the helium out of them to make their voices change. If I was one people could breathe me in and laugh. Or like a science experiment they could let me go and I could float away out of sight.. If out of sight, out of mind. Maybe there I could find peace. But again, reminded by the Great Psalmist, Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in hell, you are there!
    Or why not make me a hot air-balloon so that I can be big and beautiful..? Used to take people higher and make them feel smaller in the vastness of the sky looking down on earth. Oh that I might be used over and over, filling people with awe and wonder at your creation seen from above. Maybe I can’t hold all the hot air. Maybe I can’t be filled with such views of grandeur or be tempted with such splendor..
    One thing, if not two, is for sure. He who creates wills and shapes as He chose. And at last, ever 13346673_1745119455768051_4872466405851222693_nballoon will pop.. All the air will leave the balloon. It is not made to last but for a moment. For “All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever.”
    It’s not the shape that remains. It’s not the beauty that is created. It is not about the materials it is made out of. It is about the One who wills.. Who gives and takes away. It is His breath that will remain forever. The vessels come and go. The carriers of the breath are just that. Carriers! Taking His form. Taking His shape, to give meaning and bring purpose to those around us. We are just the carriers of that Breath.. The Inspiration! “And He (God) breathed into man the breath of life.” So, may I breath in deeply. May I stretch to hold more and bend to give resemblance to that which reflects the Creator.

Shadows…

Shadows. A dis-formed semblance cast by an object interfering with the rays of the sun, or light. The shadow isn’t the object, and at times a poor representation of that object, yet there must be some type of object for sure, or there would be no shadow.
  Shadows provide shade, like for me at this moment on my balcony. It gives relief from the direct sun and heat, allowing me some comfort and keeping my face from melting off. As I am sitting here I can see the shadow of the clouds on the mountains, slither and move, as if a song is playing and they are gracefully dancing with the mountains. Sliding from one side to the other, the silhouettes cover the slopes. The sun, ever trying to pierce the clouds, make shapes and shadows along the green slopes.
Some days are not as bright, and those days we call overcast, or cloudy.. This is when there is more shade than sun, and we rejoice in the coolness of the change. I love the cloudy weather..
Even so, as I walk along to the “area” to where we work, I can not help but to notice my shadow. It goes before me. It is not me, but a shadow of me. At times it is longer, thinner, and maybe even cooler than myself. We all have shadows.. maybe they are distorted figures of what we think of ourself and how we think others see us. Maybe the shadows cast doubt, despair, or we just don’t notice.
Shadows are funny, they change. They are never the same. The angle of the sun, the brightness of the day.. The curvature of the ground.. object around.. all play with the shape of the shadow, almost like a fun house filled with different mirrors that twist and distort what we are really like. Sometimes it’s funny, and at times frightening. Maybe because of our minds and how we perceive things, or how others have perceived us in the past.
It’s important to know they are only shadows.. They are not our true self. The shadows we cast let us know that there is light, a sun, for with out that there would be nothing to make it. And as I walk, I know that my life is but a shadow. A faint part in a larger play. Here today, gone tomorrow. Some look at my life and admire it. Some look at it and think, “what a waste.” But they don’t really know me… They are only seeing the shadow of the person doing something, and from their angle they may see something twisted by the ground or by objects in the way, and not get a clear picture of the figure casting the shadow. That is ok. What is important is not that they see me or my shadow, but the one who has created it. The Son…The Light of Life… My life is but a shadow, a representation of something greater than myself. The shadow I cast is one not of fame and fortune, but of devotion. The shadow that goes out is not of myself but of One who is greater than myself and has chosen to shine His life on me.
The shadow I cast maybe twisted and blurred at times, but I hope it gives a representation of Christ and that life He lives thru me. Maybe my shadow will mimic His Actions. Maybe my shadow, with let people see “the Light of the Glorious gospel.” Maybe those whom “the god of this world, who has blinded the minds,” might shade their eyes so that they can see an image of the Son, before looking directly into it.
The shadow is not the object. I am not the object.. I am only a type and cast of that which the light has shone. And like all shadows they fade into the night, but what remains each day will be the light.

Blessed are those that Weep

1623452_10155695601835277_4996576982935898503_n[1]I always believe words fail, specially in times of grief. I don’t think we can articulate the feelings and emotions that arise during great losses, and great joys. Words are to often soon forgotten and never really pondered. But when words are all you have, you have to make do.
We lost a precious soul out of our lives. We are still trying to figure out how to grieve. What was a staple, a sure thing, is gone leaving nothing to hold onto in its absences. For a brief time, a few short years, 5 to be exact, this woman came into our lives thru our best friend and “godfather” figure to our boys. She was the anchor that could hold up during the storm tossed years of my friends life. She was the sail that the spirit could blow into and push the ship in the right 293121_1495268959882_4486445_n[1]direction. She was the tie that bound everything together, causing us on different continents to be equally yoked together.

Her Passing has now left a big hole with lots of questions, fears, and doubts. Not that we have given up, but that for a time we are under some great dark storm wondering when the clouds will break and we will see the sun. Things have changed…

39279_4866780075768_1796011106_n[1]What I have seen, what I have heard, and what I have been apart of is something so great, so pure, and so beyond most understanding, I now try to write about. I am trying to pen that which is hard for me to understand. I am trying to give meaning to what I have experienced, or bring out the life and beauty that I got to see.

Her husband, a childhood friend, a missionary, a teacher, an actor, who seem to be on some epic journey all the time, now was apart of the greatest friendship he has ever known. He has now taught us all a lesson I hope we never have to play out. He showed us that even in this journey of a life time, things don’t work out like you plan them, as if you are on a stage directing.

1623452_10155695601835277_4996576982935898503_n[1]We watched as he cared for his bride like Christ did for the church. We all watched as he loved unconditionally thru sickness and in health. We stood in awe, as we marveled in how they fought the good fight of faith together thru all her trials, tests, and disappointments. We were able to rejoice in the small accomplishments, relish in the brief periods of health.

They took not only my wife and I, but also our kids, our youth, and those close to us on the journey with them. They included all who wanted to be apart. Never giving much detail, but always enough to keep the game afoot. See, they were on this journey, this adventure of a life time, together and were gathering an audience to watch it unfold. They spoke to those around them the word of life. They spoke to the hearts and souls of all who would listen, wither encouragement or rebuke……10155102_10201959115002806_963372281677186987_n[1]

Not having kids of their own, I believe they felt the life from ours and yearned to pass on the wisdom and knowledge they had gathered. And once they were in your life, they usually stayed there. Specially our house.. it seemed to be an oasis for them when they came to the states. Almost like a tourist attraction, or some great monument. They would have to come over to see everyone. Games would always be included in this session. Specially with our boys.

13173413_10201894580564350_2548772490487510419_o[1]Jason seemed to always take the boys somewhere special, maybe not physically, but mentally, and I believe hopefully spiritually as well. He would have these outlandish adventures planned in his head, stories to go along with them, as he would come by the house snag the boys and run off on what every awaited them. (Usually getting lost, or loosing something and always coming back with Poison Ivy!)

But now, the story has changed. The plot has taken on a different twist. One we13606979_10202146264496291_2514927556947693300_n[1] all knew was possible, but never believing it would happen. My friend loses the love of his life, to the fight of her life with cancer. We instantly feel the sting and tearing of our souls. The crushing weight of sadness clothes us like a robe, wrapped around our bodies, tied around our waist and the hood pulled over our throbbing heads. The looming clouds we once saw from a distance are now over head, and for this time we embrace the dark night of the soul.

The words we know are true, “this too shall pass,” but right now not willing for them to, nor asking for it. Right now we will dwell in the house of mourning, for it is better than the house of Joy. And we will consider it more blessed to weep.. For there is a time for everything under the sun, and right now we are where we are..

404248_3386226622857_1488557035_n[1]As I sit to write, thinking of the last year, all that has happened, all that we have been thru together, what I have witnessed and seen, I wonder if I can do it justice in writing.

I watched a husband love his wife, exactly like Christ loved us. I watched as he sacrificed time, effort, comfort, but not joy, to make her life better. I watched as he kept his vows of marriage to the letter! “Thru sickness and in health, till death do we part.” He stood by her bed, nurtured and cared for her every need. They would watch their tv shows, continue to read their book together, as if nothing was changing. As a husband, I feel this deeply, as a friend I admire and honor such sacrifice. (Though it’s not a sacrifice at all to be with the one you love.)

My friend has shown me so much of our Heavenly Father’s love. He has13735345_10208815375435323_1711023246_n demonstrated to us what it is to lay down your life for your friends. He has modeled honor, love, endurance, and a character that most people can only read about.

Romans 5 says, “We also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance character, and character, hope! And Hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His Love into our hearts..”
This I know is true, as I have seen and bare witness to these thru this dark time. I know hope does not disappoint.. I know that her suffering has produced so much character and perseverance, and when you have these qualities you will never stop bearing fruit.

But for now, it is “Blessed are those that mourn, They shall be comforted.” Now is the time we understand, “Better to dwell in the house of Mourning than in the house of feasting.” For there is a time for everything under the sun, and now it is the time of Mourning. A Time of reflecting on the memories we have so taken for granted, the Times we have ventured into journeys that have swept us up from our lives here in Decatur and has taken us across the oceans many times.
1932395_10203556865870659_805101209_n[1]Her life was infectious and contagious. It was easy to get caught up in the journey they were on. Sometimes we would go kicking and screaming, but always it would end in great joy. She taught us to see the world. Her husband showed us how to love thru the toughest of conditions.. And these are never to be taken lightly.

We are molded and changed by the places we go and the people we meet. And when people like her speak into your life deeply, you are changed. We are changed. Forever and Always. We now will hope and hope doesn’t 404285_3386283184271_686674125_n[1]disappoint. We will hope for the day when we will all be free from this bondage of flesh and bone, to love freely. To celebrate once again with each other in the Great Eternity where death will be swallowed up in Life. And The Sting of Death will no more pierce our hearts..

We have this hope!

Not as Strong as we Think we are

12182429_691791734255055_8705583053301991616_o[1]I write, not because I think I am brilliant, (we know that’s not the case) but I write to let a melody of my soul pass thru my mind, where it gives thought and meaning to the feelings which so possess me. A possession that echos thru the very core of my being. An Echo of a memory of long ago, or of late, it doesn’t matter. But, the ripples it leaves reverberate into my being leaving it’s mark like a stream’s course on the rock of time.

I’m not a poet, though I love poetry. I am not a musician though I 10717840_4806756344997_1067152170_nlong for the melodies. I do not write lyrics, nor put words that fashion thoughts with rhythm, but those who do I long for your skill and artistry. To move people with more than just emotion, but with song and lyrics, express the deepest longing of the soul, or trouble of our heart.
One such song echoes on in my mind, years after the artist has left us bodily, but thru his poetry and notes expressing something of ourselves that we can’t quit say on our own. ( This is why we need artists.) Rich Mullins, known for his musical career, but should be known for his lifestyle, wrote this song, We are Not as Strong as We Think We Are.

In it he writes,

10518685_4517389631010_3412029059414279269_n[1]We are frail, we are fearfully and wonderfully made, Forged in the fires of human passion, Choking on the fumes of selfish rage. And with these our hells and our heavens, So few Inches apart, We must be Awfully small and Not as strong as we think we are.”

As I grow older, I hope wiser, I find that it is so True. We have sometimes these great experiences and great highs, but in our next moment, our next breath we are found in the deepest pits of our lives. Our hells are just breaths away at times from the Heavens of our lives. We all to often find we are at the mercies of circumstances and really not the Captain or our fate as we once believed.
Tossed by the storms of life, we are bashed upon the rocks of sickness, pain, and loss.. What started out as a nice day with calm 9336_638132586216104_2087470888_n[1]skies turns quickly, and we are flung into chaos. A storm comes, bringing with it the power to kill our dreams, steal our hopes, and destroy our faith. It is when our lives don’t make sense, our paths our obscured, that our lungs cry out while “choking on the fumes of selfish rage,” that we are aware that “we must be awfully small, and not as strong as we think we are.”

I know there are stories of those who overcome the storms. I know even in the Bible, Jesus comes thru the storm walking on the water to the Disciples as they cry out in fear, and Peter even calls out to Jesus asking to come out of the boat toward him… Another time Jesus is asleep in the boat as it is assumingly sinking, while the Disciples are panic stricken, trying to save themselves, Jesus calmly speaks to the storm and calms the sea.. Well, I am not Jesus. Right now I am not walking on the water, nor asking too. And I am not even sure how I got into this boat that I am in, yet I am stricken none-the-less. I am fearful. I am weak and frail.

To those who see me, I am the rudder of the boat. The mast for the sails to hold on to. But, on the inside…. I am the ship tossed on the currents of life. I am a ripped sail, not holding the wind long enough to give direction or forward movement.

In the song Rich writes,

If you make me laugh I know I could make you like me. Cause 13244872_10206366196059558_7674456399507053686_n[2]when I laugh I can be a lot of fun. But we can’t do that I know that it is frightening. What I don’t know is why we can’t hold on. We Can’t Hold on.”

I feel my grip at times loosening. I feel the wind, the joys blow by, but I can’t hold on to it . I feel the memories, but for now sorrow and pain strike at the hull of the ship, toss my emotions back and forth. Nothing is steady.

13240047_10206366194939530_9197296461491753348_n[2]Normally I am a fun guy. I am out going, energetic and usually laughing; and “I know if you make me laugh I know I could make you like me, Cause when I laugh I can be a lot of fun.. But when we can’t do that I know that it is frightening”….. because, would you still like me?
Right now I am trembling like a hill on a fault-line, and when everything that is made is shaken what will remain? If the mast breaks, and sails are torn, will we keep abiding in the ship bound to one another, or will be toss everything overboard and jump for safety?
I am confident in one thing.. The God that bids me come, the God that is the harbor in the storm, a light in the darkness, will preserve us. That it is not so much my grip or my ability as much as it is His and His Sovereignty that will sustain. So, I will rest in the bow of the boat. I will “Cast my cares on Him for He cares for me.”

Back in the States, Back Home

We are back from ou1525706_620665411392561_6960443412202265789_nr 7 month Mission Trip. We left pretty much everything to go seek God in a different context, in a different culture, to find more of His heart. Being back people have asked, “How was it? Good?” or they would make a comment, “Glad your back.”  Some have asked, “What is it like being back?”

These are meaningful questions, made in somewhat sincerity, but things are not that simple as to respond with one or two words. There is not a simple answer nor response for even the comment, “Glad you’re back.”  Our hearts swell with experiences, and thoughts that swim inside us. How can we let them out? Share them? Who really wants to listen and not to be just polite?

What was it like for Jesus to go back home? Ever thought about it? He was constantly traveling around the country10991152_829572157115485_3403580132156737247_n speaking, teaching, healing, and on occasion would come to his home town.. Was He excited to see those He knew and grew up with? Did He have friends He would see? School Buddies? What about His own family..? Here is what we ready about His own family.

When His family heard this, they set out to restrain Him, because they said, “He’s out of His mind.” Mark 3:2

Then Jesus told them, “A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown and among his relatives and his own family.” Mark 6:4

10428493_357767687742531_2838769125749831671_nNot the welcome you would expect.. Not the welcome we would expect from those closest.  Isn’t it so true though?? Those closest to us are often the ones that misunderstand us the most.. Those who should hold our hearts the softest, feeding our spirits the most, providing that place of safety are often the ones to be the quickest to judge, condemn, cast the first stone, and be the most critical.

 “He went away from there and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. 2 And on the Sabbath he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished, saying, “Where did this man get these things? What is the wisdom given to him? How are such mighty works done by his hands? 3 Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him. “

Jesus knew this.. He understood it. But I am sure the pain is still there. For He was “Tempted in all parts as we.” Clothing himself in humanity he felt the pangs of betrayal, forsakenness, and loneliness.. And maybe, just maybe he walked these road willingly knowing that our hearts are fickle. Our passions are fleeting..

My heart is fickle.. My passion is fleeting.. I keep hearing this song, “If I give it all to You will You make it all New? 11030721_359721387547161_1543518241562160715_nAnd If I open up my hands will You fill them again??”  I am asking. Wondering, Searching.. I am holding out my empty hands, hoping they will be filled again.  I am giving my heart away, hoping it will be made new.  My passion is fleeting, and I look once again to the scriptures to make sense of my life, seeing that even now, I am understood.  I have one who was tempted in every way.

I will rest.. Not in the comfort of others, for they like me, are fleeting. Not in the joy of sharing my heart, for few who want to hear it..  But I will rest that somehow this will all make sense and the Author has not finished writing out my story/

The Illusion, or Adventure

20140929_151320Wikipedia states, “An illusion is a distortion of the senses, revealing how the brain normally organizes and interprets sensory stimulation. Though illusions distort reality, they are generally shared by most people.[1] Illusions may occur with any of the human senses,”

 “Life is about courage and going into the unknown.” Secret Life of Walter Mitty

To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, draw closer, to find each other, and to feel. That is the purpose of life.”  The Motto of Life Magazine – Walter Mitty

I am in Romania, I have left the comforts of everything I know, everything I have saved up for and acquired. I have given away, walked away, and let go of everything that has made up my life to come to a place I know not.. To live an adventure I can’t control. What brought me here? God, or an Illusion? A Dream.. AVision? Or a 20140929_150730misconception?

The gamble is, I have put everything on the poker table of life, and bet it all. Security. Worth. Self-esteem. Career. Home. Children. Loved ones.. I have put my cards on the table and pushed in my chips.

In my mind questions rage, was this wise? Is this safe? What is the purpose? Is this really you God??

The other night I watched a movie, “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.”  It is a story about a guy who works for “Life Magazine,” yet lives a very shallow life, whose only adventure is those he makes up in his mind.. Which happens regularly. He would just zone out while talking with someone, or just waiting on something like the bus. His mind would give him the Illusion that he is doing something heroic, or adventurous, and it would be so vivid that he could not distinguish it from reality, often ignoring everything else that is going on around him.

20140929_150007  This “Zoning Out,” was causing him shame and ridicule at work, as well as interfering with real life interaction. But through some desperate circumstances at work he is thrust into a real life drama of dangerous places, adventurous trails, and life threatening circumstances. And in this process of living this adventure, with it’s ever evolving direction, he finds “Life is about courage and going into the unknown.”  His “zoning out” and day dreaming falls away.  He has traveled to some of the most dangerous places, escaped deaths blows, and is living the motto of his Company, “Life – To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, draw closer, to find each other, and to feel.”

I am I living an illusion?  Have I let my senses distort, or allowed my mind to mis-interpret, things around me to give me the sense of living an adventure? And isn’t this what everyone is really after? An Adventure!?  We may not all zone out, but we do day dream. We do visualize something different. We do have goals, dreams, aspirations.. Our “zoning out” may be watching a movie, finding ourselves wrapped up in the adventures of those on the screen more than those around us. We look for action, adventure, romance from an external 20141010_173709source for the lack of life we are living in the now. Love on the screen is nice, but in real life it’s brutal, hard, and uncomfortable.

We turn on our game boxes, our computers, or other devises to give us the stimulation that is required to keep us going. We aren’t living an adventure,  so we are creating an illusion of one. We have to get the latest updates, newest games with the better plots, more drama or action. We are masters of illusion. We have been lulled to sleep, and had our life stolen from us dating back to the Garden with Adam and Eve.. Satan lied, promising an illusion, “to be Like God.”  And since that time we have been searching for that illusion ever since. That sense of worth, of love, of destiny, ADVENTURE..

I am in Romania. I am wearing a robe, typing on a computer. I have nothing here to give me an illusion of greatness. I am working on bathrooms, not feeling accomplishment, and trying to just make sense of each day. I am living among people I do not know. In a place I have never been before. I am meeting people, and being drawn closer to a true knowledge of God, feeling deeper what it means to lay down your pride and will.. I am under no illusion of greatness. I feel no sense of awe and wonder. I walk in the shadows of people, moving behind the light of others. I am to find others who, like me, are over shadowed.  I 1621903_4813753599924_1078205850207150352_ndon’t want to portray an illusion. I want it to be real.. Real “Life”. I want  the motto to be more than words. “To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, draw closer, to find each other, and to feel.” 

  For this is the purpose of Christ, “the Hope of glory.” He came “that we might have Life and have it more Abundantly.” He was “moved with compassion,” “Touched with the feelings of our infirmities,” so that we could draw closer, to know Him deeply, and find each other. “To bear one another’s burdens.” This is our great adventure. This is my story which is being written out.

“To seek and to save,” “to love the least of these.” I don’t want to live an illusion. I want to leave a legacy, not of wasted time and untaken chances… I choose real life. I choose to love despite rejection. I choose people, despite reward. I choose the path less taken that others may live.

  Donald  Miller in his book  A Million Miles in a Thousand Years,  he says, “once you live a story, 1385583_10154708505165525_2960086503423531656_nyou want to live a better story… “And once you live a good story, you get a taste for a kind of meaning in life, and you can’t go back to being normal; you can’t go back to meaningless scenes stitched together by the forgettable thread of wasted time.”

Our lives tell a story, the blank page on which God writes our story is in the everyday life, wither we choose adventure, drama, love, or just the illusion. “Once you live a story, you will want to live a better story.. And soon you become the character your living..”

“I have come that you might have Life!”

On a Journey

20140924_035254   I am a stranger, an alien. I am a foreigner.  This is my journey.  My wife and I have embarked on a journey overseas, to new lands, a place not to fond of our kind.  It is a place we are the minority and our language is not spoken, nor do they care.   I am learning what the Beatitudes mean.. “Blessed are the Broken.. Blessed are the meek.. Blessed are the poor..”  I am on a journey, to live the Kingdom among those who are different..

Our day started off in the wee hours of the morning.  It was a 20 minute walk 20140923_221442to the church where we would meet some of the team going out. To our surprise we would meet mostly our nationality, but not surprised that they were all from different walks of life.  They all have been serving overseas in various countries and now have relocated to Istanbul for various reasons.

We loaded up a small van and headed to the ferry.  The conversations began!  Everyone wanted to know where everyone came from and what they were in Istanbul for.  Seems everyone was in a season of transition. They had all left their previous ministries and have converged here to figure out their next direction.  And yes, we too are here working on the same, but our next step is taking us to Romania for at least a season.
20140923_231538   The boat ride was nice. The temperature was cool. The weather was shaping up to be glorious. The sun started peaking over the vast city of Constantinople, (For my Greek friends..) as we made our way to the island.

Once there, the adventure began.  It is over a mile up the mountain on the 20140923_231554island called, Büyükada (“Big Island“).  The steep pitch of the slope, with the weight of carrying books, Bibles, tables, and cooler, made the trek a little more breath taking than just a casual stroll, but as we climbed, the view opened more of the window of God’s glory.  We were getting above the tree line.  The sun was in full bloom, reflecting off the 20140923_234756sea.  There are no cars, no motorcycles, only bicycles, and horse drawn carriages. Why am I here? What has brought me across the globe to be here for such a time as this?  What strange culture am I embarking on?  Why are people flocking to the island to go to St George’s Church?  (A church built in 936 AD, I must add.)  What is this strange pilgrimage people are making?  I was about to find out..

Twice a year people walk this path to the church for various reasons, but the 20140924_004902purpose is because they need, or want, divine help in some matter, may it be issues with family, a loved ones health, finances, or whatever, they come to pray and pay tribute in hopes of being heard.  But there is more to it…

20140924_003220   At the midway point, there is an area you can buy charms, amulets, and other trinkets that will help ensure your prayers will be heard, wither for a car, a baby, a mate, money, or whatever.  (These are sure to help..)  There is also string that can be purchased, and what they will do is tie the string to something as the start up the main slop and unroll it as they go up.  If you make it all the way up with the string it means your prayers will be unbroken..  (Sad thought here is, what if someone behinds you breaks your string??  Does God not hear your prayers now?  You’re getting the picture I hope..)

Another thing observed is people will pass out candy, cookies, or 20140924_062520sugar cubes on the way up and back down.  They do this because it will mean their prayers will be sweet and receptive.  (Not wanting to be rude,  of course, I took great delight in receiving the various gifts.. Chocolates where my favorite, but they were too few. Mostly got sugar cubes and one cookie.)

Occasionally people would walk by without shoes. This was of interest to us all.  These people, I guess, wanted to feel they earned the right to be heard.  Maybe they felt guilty, and for some reason felt this would help take the burden away.  (I am moved, for a couple of reasons.. They are trying so hard to have their prayers heard, and willing to pay whatever the price they deemed necessary.  Secondly, they really don’t know if their prayers will be heard or not.)

20140924_045616 I observed yet another type of people..  As they would go up the mountain, doing some, or all these things, they would not speak… These, I found precious.  For they want their first words to be to God, and not to man.. (I think this is something we could all learn from.)  I admire their passion.  I admire their motives. Yet, I am saddened at their insecurity.

This is where I find myself this morning.  I am on 20140924_051916top of this hill, surrounded with people like me, who want to help bring the Kingdom of Heaven on earth.  People who want to share the  Love of God.  To pray for these dear people who have come for this very reason… To pray.  To seek the Lords Favor.

We found ourselves talking and sharing with people from a variety of faiths, Protestants, Catholics, Orthodox (Greek and Russian), Muslim, and with no affiliations.  People hurting. A daughter, praying for her mom who has liver cancer.  A young woman who is pregnant. Mothers, praying for their unwed daughters, praying for their children’s health, happiness, and direction… Women who have been hurt in relationships, broken.

20140924_024320  I found myself not as engaged as my spouse, yet I watched. I wanted to see what God was seeing.  I watched how she would move into position around those who wanted prayer. Moved with compassion, she would be touched by their feelings.  She would speak the Words of Life to them.  She would pray, and then they would feel what she was saying, though they could not understand her words, they felt her heart, her God..  Her heart was enlarged that day, and so was mine.

Too often we sit to proud to touch someone. Too often we sit, afraid of those different than us, unable to reach out to be the Kingdom.  Fear keeps us from love, yet Perfect Love casts out fear.. gives us the courage to 20140924_023511face it. We have been told, “these people are our enemies.”  We have been raised to think other nationalities are below us, we are superior.  My brothers and sisters, we have not understood our place.. “God rejects the Proud, but Gives grace to the humble.”  We have not understood the Beatitudes.. “Blessed are the  poor, for such is the Kingdom of God.”  We have not really grasped, nor practiced, “Blessed are the meek, they shall inherit the earth.”

I am a stranger, an alien, a foreigner in this country, but that is ok. This world is not my home, I am just passing thru. So I will walk out the rest of my days never being home and always visiting wherever I live.  This is me, living out of meekness..