Crazy Ideas

I have heaps of crazy ideas & what’s really interesting is that I’m not afraid to try out lots of these ideas. Sometimes it works out well & sometimes it’s a disaster. Over the course of time, I’ve grown accustomed to the raised eyebrows & quizzical looks that people give me, but there are few friends who give me the thumbs up & seem to enjoy these grand adventures.

Sometimes, I think the Holy Spirit has some crazy ideas as well. I’ve had the Holy Spirit direct my steps to do some really incredible things, like starting nightcare with Saving Moses, teaching German in China & learning some fun languages! Let’s be careful that we don’t automatically dismiss something crazy & miss an opportunity to follow the Holy Spirit on a fun adventure!!

Keep Looking

“Where is Jo-Jo?”  I’d circled through the stark malnutrition clinic in Angola with Saving Moses, looking for the struggling little baby that I’d met just before we took a break for lunch.  I remembered seeing Jo-Jo’s mom: she was extremely tired and her nerves were obviously frayed.  But I was hopeful for Jo-Jo, since she was in our clinic now and could receive some medical care and a steady supply of the malnutrition formula that has kept literally thousands of babies from dying.

I talked with my friends about Jo-Jo over lunch and I was eager return to the clinic and  encourage her mom that we would do our level best to help her frail daughter to survive and even thrive.  I walked through our clinic again, slower this time, looking for little Jo-Jo in her bright red shirt.  I couldn’t find her so I asked our translator to check in with the nurse to see where Jo-Jo was.  “Her mom took her and left,” was the nurse’s reply.  “We have to find her!  She doesn’t stand a chance of surviving without our help!  Where’s her file, find her address, call the phone number, let’s go to her house, let DO SOMETHING!!!”  I was really upset and I could tell the nurse was also very disturbed.  We looked at Jo-Jo’s chart, found a phone number and only the name of the neighborhood where she lived, since Angola doesn’t use an address system like we do in the US. There was no chance of finding her in the neighborhood listed, it was HUGE.  When we called the number listed on the chart, there was no answer.  So how could we keep trying to find Jo-Jo?  Could we send someone to her neighborhood in the very remote chance we’d find her?

We did this and we kept calling the phone number, but we never found Jo-Jo and given the extremely frail state of her little body, I would suppose that she died.  This has really bothered me for a very long time because Jo-Jo’s mom seemed to have given up all hope for her daughter to live.  What kind of hell does a mom go through to get to the point of giving up hope for her baby to live?  Could I have been more sensitive to the mom’s exhausted state?  What would I do differently in this situation for the future?

Some things are deeply disturbing and this is probably a good thing because such experiences can interrupt our comfortable living and provoke us to bring genuine love and life to the world in which we live.  Let’s keep looking for ways to let God love the world through us.

Celebrate Progress :)

The other day I was packing my suitcase for a trip & sometimes packing makes me discouraged because I often forget something. Things I’ve forgotten include: makeup, my passport, entrance visas for various countries, my notes for preaching, various clothing necessities & the list goes on without limit. But I’m choosing to celebrate progress because lately, I’ve forgotten less than usual 🙂

And this is my encouragement to you today: celebrate progress more than conclusion. So many times I’ve been discouraged with myself for not having everything together. Discouragement can often become disheartening & ultimately depressing. So let’s chose today to celebrate progress rather than discouragement. Here are some ideas for celebrating:

  • Maybe your less late than usual
  • Maybe you gave someone a complement when usually you’re awkwardly quiet
  • Maybe you said less than what was running around in your mind & emotions
  • Maybe you showed up when you wanted to disappear
  • Maybe you chose courage rather than fear / intimidation
  • Maybe you listened instead of talking mindlessly to fill what seemed to be an awkward quiet 
  • Maybe you prayed a little more than worried
  • Maybe you chose to be vulnerable rather than amored 
  • Maybe you purposely gave without expecting a complementary payback
  • Maybe you chose to walk out your stress rather than eat the chocolate ,)
  • Maybe you chose water instead of coffee

Progress my friends – it’s a good thing ,)

Celebrate Progress :)

The other day I was packing my suitcase for a trip & sometimes packing makes me discouraged because I often forget something. Things I’ve forgotten include: makeup, my passport, entrance visas for various countries, my notes for preaching, various clothing necessities & the list goes on without limit. But I’m choosing to celebrate progress because lately, I’ve forgotten less than usual 🙂

And this is my encouragement to you today: celebrate progress more than conclusion. So many times I’ve been discouraged with myself for not having everything together. Discouragement can often become disheartening & ultimately depressing. So let’s chose today to celebrate progress rather than discouragement. Here are some ideas for celebrating:

  • Maybe your less late than usual
  • Maybe you gave someone a complement when usually you’re awkwardly quiet
  • Maybe you said less than what was running around in your mind & emotions
  • Maybe you showed up when you wanted to disappear
  • Maybe you chose courage rather than fear / intimidation
  • Maybe you listened instead of talking mindlessly to fill what seemed to be an awkward quiet 
  • Maybe you prayed a little more than worried
  • Maybe you chose to be vulnerable rather than amored 
  • Maybe you purposely gave without expecting a complementary payback
  • Maybe you chose to walk out your stress rather than eat the chocolate ,)
  • Maybe you chose water instead of coffee

Progress my friends – it’s a good thing ,)

Being Hungry

When I come home from an Int’l trip, I’m often hungry for a hamburger or a salad – familiar food that are in my home culture. This isn’t to say that I don’t like ethnic food. I TOTALLY love to try new foods in various cultures. Some of the foods I’ve tried were not that tasty when I first tried them, but the more I ate them, the more I liked these different foods. 
Sometimes I think spiritual food can be similar. I find that there are some spiritual foods that are tasty & appealing. For example, we like where the Bible says that we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us in Phil 4:13. But some verses aren’t quite as appealing. For example, James 1:4 says that we should let endurance have its perfect work so that we can be perfect & complete, not lacking anything. 

Let’s be certain that we let the Holy Spirit cultivate our appetites so that we eat spiritual food that helps us grow & become mature followers of Jesus 🙂

Reach For More

Earlier this week, I wrote about celebrating ordinary & normal as I was traveling home from a long weekend in Singapore. But yesterday, I started reading the book of Judges in the OT & some crazy stuff happened in that book. Judges includes the stories of Samson, Jael (driving a nail through a guy’s head), Gideon & lots more. In the beginning, it talks a lot about how the Israelites didn’t drive out the Canaanites from the Promised Land. Israel allowed the common & natural to remain in their land & this shortfall became a stumbling block for Israel. The stories in Judges that are noteworthy aren’t the ones about what’s ordinary, believable or natural. 

Maybe we live common, natural & ordinary lives because we tolerate average & safe. 
Perhaps God wants us to live different lives:
Super + natural = supernatural

Extra + ordinary = extraordinary

Credible + in = incredible
Let’s allow more space for God in our lives & less space for ordinary, credible & natural 🙂

I like people

People are interesting without a doubt.  Sit in a Starbux, visit an airpot, watch in Walmart, socialize in church, etc & its high grade entertainment value to see what people do & how they behave.  Sometimes I just like to stop what I’m doing, adjust my attention & look at what the people are doing around me – so MUCH FUN!!!!

Here are some reasons why I like people:

  • diversity:  no two people are the same in any way, no matter how much effort they make to imitate & blend
  • creative: everyone seems to see things from unique & often highly creative perspectives, causing them to behave in very creative ways & do creative things
  • beautiful:  each person has a distinct beauty (in their visage, mannerisms, interactions, clothing, makeup, etc)
  • surprises:  just when you think you have a handle on human behavior someone does something entirely unexpected, rogue & outlier-ish
  • community:  it’s always fun to watch the ways in which we interact with each other, endeavoring to honor, connect, communicate & engage

Today, let’s celebrate people, God’s highest & most valuable creation 🙂

Fools Gold

When I was growing up, I learned about the Gold Rush & how some people were tricked by “Fools Gold”, thinking they’d found gold only to be disappointed that the shiny metal was nothing more than shiny metal. 

This lesson is speaking to me again here in Angola, where Saving Moses has 6 malnutrition clinics.   Two of our clinics are less than an hour apart. The first clinic is very rustic, seemingly primitive & seems to lack even the bare essentials. The electricity has only been added in the last few years & whenever I hang out there, it almost feels like I’m camping, but our moms will live with their babies in this place for an average of 3-4 weeks in what we would consider primitive & seemingly uncivilized conditions at first glance. Some of the staff are frequently high school graduates interested in going into medical school so they get their feet wet, literally, starting at this malnutrition clinic. 
The second clinic, about an hours drive away, is a seemingly sharp contrast. It’s definitely a more modern building, adjacent to a medical school & staffed with medical students & health professionals running around in white lab coats. On the outside, it looks like it’s far more developed & we would often conclude more effective than the first clinic. 
But the reality is the opposite. The first clinic, albeit rustic, is highly regarded & well renowned for specializing in malnutrition. With our therapeutic milk, 80% of the babies in this clinic survive & grow to be healthy kids. In this seemingly backwater clinic, people will travel for literally hundreds of miles to get their babies to what they consider the best possible care to survive the ravages of malnutrition – all in a place that barely has running water. While the second clinic looks better appointed, it’s not as effective nor well regarded for its malnutrition work. 
Just because something looks shiny & bright on the outside doesn’t mean that it’s golden, effective & even healthy on the inside. Paul tells us in the New Testament not to be deceived by the external & what we see but rather to be led by the Holy Spirit in our hearts, attentive to the Spirit of Truth 🙂

Just When You Think it’s Safe

We live in a highly sophisticated world where I can do the milk delivery order from my phone in remote Angola & where we can monitor brain waves with highly technical equipment & medical discoveries & developments that are thoroughly revolutionary. And yet life is still very frail & can hang by a breathless thread. The first baby when I got out of the car in Angola a few days ago was dead & being carried away to be prepared for burial. The last baby I saw before leaving Angola was gasping for shallow breaths & gazed with a fixed glaze, looking death in the eye. In the middle few days, we’ve had massive joys, experiences & beautiful connections. 

One lesson I bring home from this trip is that I am most alive when I love well. Please be praying for Josiana, her picture below  She’s 1year & 2 months & she’s the last baby I saw before leaving



Sometimes

I’m taking a pause here in Angola, sitting on the ledge in one of our malnutrition clinics for Saving Moses. I’m pausing for lots of reasons, one of which is to have a few minutes to absorb & process. I can get so thick in the middle of all of these babies & moms that I get more than a little overwhelmed. I don’t get overwhelmed by the smells, milk mustaches nor knobby knees or elbows. I get overwhelmed by love – the love of Jesus for each baby, in all of her frail humanity, sometimes suspended in each rapid breath. I get overwhelmed by her eyes looking deep into me with curiosity, some anxiety of the unknown but most of all by the common life we share as humans. We live different lives but we are glued together & anchored in love. 

Sometimes a person should pause to reflect, absorb & let the feet get rooted deeper & deeper into genuine love. I find myself deeply in love with Jesus, sitting on the ledge here in Angola & I’d love to have you sitting next to me sharing this experience of deeply rooted genuine love. 

Intervention

I’m in Angola finishing up our first day – highs & lows. At our first stop, we hopped out of the car only to meet face first a baby who just died along with her mom who was just shattered. I’ve landed at this clinic too many times to come with flippant indifference. The fight for life here is literally every day. 

On a relatively positive contrast, I visited a neighborhood & keyed in on a baby who’s not doing well at all.  Please pray that she turns up at the malnutrition clinic in the morning, her name is Josephine.  While I’m extremely sad to see Josephine’s condition, I’m also thinking that some prayer & proactive work has a really good chance to keep this baby from dying. 
God redeems pain & maximizes opportunities to maximize life!

X-Rays

Going through airport security in foreign countries can be a very interesting experience, to put it mildly. The security in some countries is nothing more than a suggestion & in other countries, I’ve had some experiences that I just don’t talk about. But the whole point is that they want see past a person’s surface presentation, X-ray vision. 

It seems to me that the ability to see beyond the surface is really important. So many times in our lives we can be distracted & even deceived by mere appearances. Some people look amazing on the surface but if you dig a little deeper, they’re a disaster in every way. On the flip side, I’ve met people whose surface appearance was far from appealing. They’re disheveled & unimpressive from a quick glance, but underneath, they’re nothing less than magnificent humans.  And this is one of the things I most love about the Holy Spirit, Whom Jesus also calls the Spirit of truth. The Holy Spirit has X-ray vision, knows who we really are on the inside & remains deeply committed, faithful & loving with us. The Holy Spirit empowers us to be who God has made us to be 🙂

Anticipation

In about 24 hours, I’ll be swimming in babies & toddlers in Angola with my Saving Moses work. One part of me loves this immeasurably & one part of me hates this almost more than anything. I loathe seeing emaciated babies, whose lives are literally hanging by a thread & their faces from previous trips still haunt me. 

While I get to travel with an absolutely awesome team & they’re MASSIVELY fun, I also know that each of us will soon be over our heads, swimming in the deep end of emotions, raw hearts scrapped on a grater & overwhelming questions that can only be divinely soothed. 
I’ll go to sleep soon on a plane & wake up in a different world, try to get my bearings & love well. Over the next week, I’ll post some about my trip, along with some insightful & intimate God thoughts. Stay tuned 🙂

dealing with: disappointment

We all deal with disappointment, feeling let down & even betrayed. It’s not an issue of “if” you’ll experience these things, but moreso “when” and most importantly what we do with this stuff.  While this week for me has had some awesome high points and causes to celebrate, it’s also had a fair share of disappointments.  So what do we do with this stuff?  The Bible is replete with examples of people dealing with disappointment, feeling let down & betrayed – Judas, Joseph, Leah & Moses are a few names that immediately come to mind.

A few helpful points:

  • remember the lesson of the pearl:  it’s beauty started with an irritant
  • sometimes disappointment can show us that maybe we’ve had the wrong focus – looking at people, situations or events more than keeping our eyes on God;  this reminds me of when the angel spoke with the women at Jesus’ tomb in Luke 24:5, “Why do you search for the living among the dead?”
  • redemption is the outcome when we put discouragement & let down in God’s hands
  • let’s encourage each other to remain faithful to God, knowing that God is doing divine things of which we are unaware (Rom 8:28-29 – all things work together for good to those who love God, . . . . )

hot topic: dead babies in storage shed

I was absolutely appalled to read about the discovery of 4 babies found dead in Canada yesterday in a storage unit.  The Canadian authorities are obviously doing a thorough investigation into the situation and because they were only found yesterday, there’s not alot of information to answer the host of questions that neither you nor I have at this moment.

When we hear of situations like this, I think it’s extermely important not to get callous nor indifferent to these kinds of atrocities – hence my work with Saving Moses.  Our mission with Saving Moses is to help babies & toddlers where the need is most urgent & the care is least available.  With these parameters, we have a malnutrition program that feeds severely malnourished babies in Angola (very high infant mortality), many of whom would die without our therapeutic formula.  Additionally, we run a really novel program in Cambodia called nightcare, where we take care of the babies of prostitutes at night while they work – so they don’t have the babies with them while they’re working, or abandon them in unsafe care or situations.  We are already setting up plans and funding for 2015 so that we can continue to expand of efforts with our mission to “save Moses.”

If we are not deeply and even primordially disturbed by these atrocities with babies, then perhaps we need to pause & reconsider some basic human values 🙂

Doing Everything!

Sometimes I wish I could do everything. In my thinking this means I could:

  • take voice lessons so I could learn to lead praise & worship because I love this heaps!
  • Learn Portuguese & Khmer languages to I could communicate with my Saving Moses babies & moms better
  • Keep babies from dying with Saving Moses in Somalia, Afghanistan, Sierra Leone, Liberia & Guinea
  • Learn how to do more cool stuff on social media
  • Write all the books that role around in my heart, right now!!
  • Coach my kids in their sports stuff (probably in their best interests that I don’t)
  • Figure out how business and accounting people do that cool stuff
  • Learn Ugaritic, Akkadian and Aramaic while getting my doctorate in Biblical Hebrew
  • Open nightcare with Saving Moses in India next week

Just because I want to do something doesn’t mean that I should – indeed, learning to work with people, helps us to do much more than what we could do by ourselves. Furthermore, only God is wired up to do all of that stuff & much more.  If you’re like me, let’s be mindful that we don’t drown ourselves in all our dreams and desires 🙂

hot topic: ebola

Puking blood, bleeding through the eyes, ears and other areas, coughing, fever, headache and some delirium – these are all symptoms of a person who could have the ebola virus.  As I’ve read up on the current outbreak, here are a few important things to note:

  • there’s no known medical cure nor vaccination
  • the current strain is killing between 50-60% of those who catch it
  • it’s spread through bodily fluid (blood, saliva, etc)
  • the World Health Organization thinks that this outbreak could kill 20,000 people before they can get it under control
  • it’s presently in these African nations:  Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Nigeria & Congo (DRC)
  • two US healthcare providers with the ebola virus were medically evacuated from Africa & have recovered & been released
  • this outbreak probably started with the orginal victim in December 2013 – a two year old in Guinea  #SavingMoses

Please be praying for Africa with this outbreak.  While I know that there are many deadly diseases that are dramtically more common than ebola, let’s pray nevertheless for protection for the healthcare workers who are on the front lines fighting this awful virus and let’s pray that the leadership for each country will have wisdom in how they communicate and the decisions that they make for their citizens.

 

an outlier father

Watch this a short & really amazing video of a  legendary father

After you watch this, consider that he’s most likely the ONLY single dad that our malnutrition workers have ever met in Angola in more than 15 years of work there.  Moses is totally amazing!!!!

 

 

some helpful encouragement

YAHOOOO!!!!!  I’m super excited because lots of the hard work that we’ve been doing with Saving Moses is starting to yield some fruit!!!!!  I have so many dreams in my heart for the work that we do with Saving Moses that sometimes I can get discouraged when I’m not making the progress that I’d like.  But today is a really good day for Saving Moses!!!!  We are making some breakthroughs with our nightcare centers, considering expanding to 2 more countries this year, getting some help with our marketing efforts and watching our efforts become increasingly effective!  I can’t give lots of precise details at this time, but it’s just encouraging to see how God is helping us to grow & become more impactful!

If you have some areas in your life that seem discouraging, please don’t give up praying for those things & continuing to trust God.  Gal 6:9 says that we don’t get weary in well doing because we’ll reap a harvest if we don’t faint 🙂