Central Asia

Letter from a TCK

Hi. My name is Emily and my family is a cross-cultural worker family. Worker in the Matthew 9:38 sense of “send out workers into his harvest field.” I realize that my family’s very lifestyle puts all kinds of preconceived notions into different people’s heads, and so with every relationship I have, I am already working against stereotypes in order to try to get you to see the real me.

One of my largest struggles is loneliness, but I try to be strong and not let it show. In my home country, the friends whom I consider my dearest and closest friends consider me as just a casual friend who pops in and out of their lives once a year. If I come across to them as clingy, or when I’ve sent ten texts to their one response, understand that I am just so hopeful that someone from my home country will accept me, receive me, understand me—that I won’t be forgotten. I still want to matter to you. My fears are not related to the safety and danger aspects of my host country, but rather my fears are being forgotten from my loved ones in my home country, as they learn to do life without me and no longer leave room for me in their lives. I know I’m not physically there all the time, but I still need to be considered part of your lives. I need to still belong.

All that to say, I still consider my host country to be one of my homes, and I feel at home there a lot of the time, despite the cultural and language barriers. I get out and talk with people and make friends and live life, and I love my life. But in the same way that I have to struggle against stereotypes and preconceived notions in my home country, I have the same struggle in my host country with suspicion and misunderstanding and culture stress thrown in. But this is the life I have and the life I know, and I am trying to adapt, to blend in, to make myself fit in to this new culture.

And I do fit in. My home country corners get rubbed off of my square shape the more I live in my host country, and I lose some of my square shape. Yet I really don’t know that I will ever take on the circle shape of my host country. So I live, sometimes blindly even, in my state of a roundish square or a lumpy circle.  You may notice this shape changing more than I do. For when I come into my home country and greet you with hugs and kisses and want to hold your hand or hold onto your arm, I forget that you may not be comfortable with that closeness. That’s simply how we show friendship in my host country. So I have to remind myself to take a step back and shake your hand and be content to just walk or sit beside you.

As I speak with you, I’m not trying to be awkward on purpose. I don’t throw in random foreign words into our conversation to make you feel like an outsider. And I don’t forget my first language to be cute or eccentric. I have two languages running inside my head every day, and sometimes the wrong language comes out at the wrong time. And sometimes the only word that comes to mind is my other language. I have words in one language that don’t even translate into the other language. My mind is constantly navigating which words to use in which contexts. If I take a little longer to greet you or to respond to you, I’m just trying to figure out the right language and customs to use. I’ll get there as quickly as I can.

When it comes time to say goodbye to you, I can’t predict how I’m going to handle it. I may stare blankly into nothingness, too numb to feel. My tears may stream out of my eyes from deep within my core, and I may lose the control to pull myself back together. Goodbyes are so hard, and they never get any easier.  I feel the loss of each goodbye intensely. I’ve heard it said that children in my situation experience more loss by the age of twenty than a mono-culture person does in a lifetime. Thank you for being patient with me as I process yet another goodbye, another loss.

I hope this helps you understand me better. Please reach out to me. Please let me fill a place in your life. Notice me. Accept me. I want you in my life more than you know.

Our Residency Cards

Photo of the Week – 11 April

In Lent of 2011, when we began to dream and scheme about what God was asking us to do for the Kingdom, He gave us a single scripture verse:

“Whether by day or by night, whenever the cloud lifted, they set out.” – Numbers 9:21b

The idea for us being that God was simply asking us to follow Him wherever He would lead, and stay for however long He asked us to stay. The passage continues:

“Whether the cloud stayed over the tabernacle for two days or a month or a year, the Israelites would remain in camp and not set out; but when it lifted, they would set out. At the LORD’s command they encamped, and at the LORD’s command they set out.” – Numbers 9:22-23a

Up until this point, the “Cloud” has stayed for short periods of time over specific places (or people):

  • Azerbaijan for three months
  • Belize for one week
  • Estonia for ten days
  • Memphis for one week
  • Mexico for ten days
  • Turkey for two months, three months, three months, and one week (in that order)

So, when we began to plan for this trip, we were expecting a similar type of trip. Yet, as we dug further into the planning, and then arrived back in Turkey, we knew that the cloud was going to be here much longer.

Our heart is for the workers across Central Asia. In many of these countries, Turkish (or a related language) is spoken or understood. Airfare from Turkey to these nations is quite reasonable, and airfare for roundtrip tickets from here to the USA is about half the price as paying for roundtrip tickets from the USA to Turkey. Living in the land, speaking the language, and understanding the struggles and stresses of cross-cultural life are important to things for us to be accepted by other workers. And, until we’re accepted and trusted, our desire to serve them will not be as welcomed.

So, our photo of the week illustrates our commitment to setting up the camp for a longer period of time. After several weeks of gathering documents, having them translated and notarized, buying insurance, meeting with residency officials, and a visit from the immigration police, we are officially residents of this amazing country!

Our Residency Cards

Our Residency Cards

 

#Advent15: Spoila

I realized this morning that I haven’t posted anything for Advent this year. I had good intentions of posting each day as we did in the past, and had even written the first week’s worth of posts. But, somehow the words just didn’t seem to fit this season.

Advent is a time of waiting. Of longing for something bigger and better. Of yearning for a new King to establish a new Kingdom.

For hundreds of years, the people of Israel would pray and yearn and long and hope and wait for this new King. As time went on, the hope grew, but the understanding of this King shifted. By the time that Christ came, Israel was expecting an overthrow of Rome. A restoration of David’s Throne. Return to the glory days.

On Saturday, 21 November, I stood in ancient Ephesus in modern-day Turkey. It was such an honor to have Pastor Mark Foster from Acts 2 UMC there with me, and to show him some of the cultural heritage of that remarkable country. I tried to explain things as I saw them. Tried to give him a sense of the land. A place where Christianity had once thrived. A city that had been home to Paul, Luke, Apollos, Priscilla, Aquila, Timothy, and, of course, John the Beloved.

Spoila

Spoila on the staircase at the Terrace Houses in Ancient Ephesus

As we came down the stairs out of the Terrace Houses (a must see if you’re ever in the area), I noticed something. Archeologists call it spoila. It’s the usage of older materials to build new things. There, on the staircase, was an amazing example of spoila. A piece of marble that looked like it had come from the top of an ancient structure placed in among the stairs. Old materials. New uses.

As I pointed this out to Pastor Mark, all of the many verses that God had given us over our previous trips to Turkey came rushing back. And, with them, so many of the prophecies regarding this new Kingdom for which we long.

Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings. — Isaiah 58:12 (NIV)

They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations. — Isaiah 61:4 (NIV)

And, a lot of things made more sense. I had often thought that the whole rebuilding of ancient ruins was to build the old thing again. But, on that staircase at the Terrace Houses in that ancient city, I came to understand spoila.

Taking the old…

…the torn down…

…the damaged goods…

…the mess…

…the pain…

…the junk of life…

…and building something new and beautiful from the pieces.

And, with that understanding came one of those “the Kingdom is like” lessons.

When the remains of what was once glorious are used to create a new–more glorious–thing. That is the Kingdom of Heaven.

And, that’s the message of Revelation 21. A new heaven. A new earth. Built from the spoila of the old. Built from the chaos of the fall. Made into this perfect ordered order that only the true King can do.

I’m back in the States now. Grappling with two mass shootings in the last few days. Grappling with a refugee crisis with which some are hesitant to deal. Grappling with friends that are trying to understand how to make ends meet. Grappling with grief.

And, as I try to understand all of this, I keep finding myself on that staircase in Ephesus. Examining the spoila. Trying to see in the midst of it all where the Kingdom might be coming. Where will the Messiah make His appearance. Where will the ancient ruins be rebuilt into a new and beautiful thing.

And, while I know that all these issues and struggles and pains and griefs and hurts won’t be fully restored today, I know that little-by-little the pieces are being collected, and turned into something that will someday be beautiful.

Because, when the King comes, so does the Kingdom. And, with the Kingdom comes a time where all things are made new.

Until then, we wait.

And, we work.

Because, as citizens of the Kingdom, we are called to be the ones to pick up the spoila and partner with the King to co-create the new Heaven and the new Earth.

Kuş14 – Photo Journal 4 (Food)

One of questions that we're most frequently asked in the States is: “What do you eat when you travel?” Over the course of this trip, we've taken quite a few photos of food. So, we thought for this edition of the Kuş14 Photo Journal it would be fun to talk about food.

Since (on this trip) we have our own kitchen, we don't eat out very often. This means that every Tuesday we head to the local street market (Salı Pazar) and stock up on fresh fruits and vegetables. We average 16.4 kilos (36.1 pounds) of fruits and vegetables each week at a cost of about $14.50!

Our Kitchen

Our Kitchen

A typical Salı Pazar haul

A typical Salı Pazar haul

All these fruits and vegetables are supplemented by a steady supply of rice, lentils (green and red), olives (Michael and the kids have eaten over 7 kilos (15 pounds) worth), and bread.

Kırmızı Mercimek

Kırmızı Mercim

Steph has learned to make all our favorite Turkish dishes: Mercımek Çorba (Red Lentil Soup), Gözleme (thin flat bread (Lavaş) stuffed with potatoes and cheese and grilled), İmam Bayıldı (“Fainting” Imam — eggplant covered with tomato), Ezo Gelin (a red lentil soup with bulgur and mint), Fakes (a Greek green lentil soup), Kuru Fasulye (white beans boiled in a tomato base and served over rice), and Pilav (rice cooked with small pasta).

İmam Bayıldı

İmam Bayıldı

Every meal that we eat at home is served with a side of red pepper, tomato, and cucumber. Caleb would eat his weight in tomato and cucumber if we'd let him, and Emily loves the peppers.

Side dish

Side dish

We've also discovered an unique fruit called Dağ Çilek. The literal translation is Mountain Strawberry. They taste a bit like a super soft peach, but have a spiky texture that pokes your mouth as you eat them.

Dağ Çilek

Dağ Çilek

We eat out on most Sunday's. There is a great restaurant near the hotel where the church meets called Saray (pronounced Suh-rye and means Palace). They have great Pide (think boat shaped pizza without red sauce), and Adana Kebap (lamb). They also serve a great Turkish dessert called Künefe. It's cheese rolled in wheat and then baked and covered with honey water and ground pistachio.

Künefe

Künefe

Finally, Caleb discovered the Köfte Ekmek. Köfte is a flattened and grilled meatball that is one of my favorite dishes in Turkey.

Caleb and his Köfte

Caleb and his Köfte

 

 

#Advent14 — God, Do It Again!

A reading from the Psalms.

It seemed like a dream, too good to be true, when God returned Zion’s exiles. We laughed, we sang, we couldn’t believe our good fortune. We were the talk of the nations—”God was wonderful to them!” God was wonderful to us; we are one happy people.

And now, God, do it again—bring rains to our drought-stricken lives. So those who planted their crops in despair will shout hurrahs at the harvest, so those who went off with heavy hearts will come home laughing, with armloads of blessing.

Psalm 126 (MSG)

This is the Word of the Lord.

Exiles. Those for whom home is not where they are, but a place they most desperately want to be. Somewhere between the place of their dreams and the place of their hopes.

Not quite here.

Not quite there.

As someone who has never been forcibly removed from my home, I can’t even begin to imagine the indescribable joy that must come from returning to a place that once seemed so far away. Trapped in a foreign land. Trapped under rules and regulations that make you only slightly more free than a prisoner.

When we pull in the driveway of our home in Edmond after a few months overseas, my heart skips a beat or two. My own bed. The familiarity of smells and sights and sounds. The view of pasture and neighbors–not too close–press into my eyes.

Even more sweet than that, is that first service when we are back home at Acts 2 UMC. The worship band sounds better than they ever have. The message refreshes and brings deep wells of life. And, communion–the family dinner–is the most precious moment of all.

Until last week, that was the closest that I could come to imagining the joy of the exiles returning home. And, then, I met a pregnant lady living in the basement of a church. She, and her family, are Christian refugees from the conflict in Iraq. She has a six-year old and a three-year old. She pointed to her six-year old daughter and said through the translator, “When I was pregnant with her, I had to flee my home because of war.” Then she pointed at the three-year-old son and said, “When I was pregnant with him, I had to flee my home because of war.” Then she smiled and said, “Now, I’m pregnant again. And, fleeing again.” As I fought back tears, I hugged the daughter and kissed the son on the forehead.

And then she said the most unexpected thing, “I’ve never known joy until I came here to this church. I am home.”

As I read today’s scripture, I kept thinking about this precious lady and her beautiful children. I thought about her statement. While I know that she’ sound a place of safety and peace in the midst of the conflict, I also know that she is stuck somewhere between the dream of home and reality of home. And, I wondered how much joy would be in this woman’s heart and in her family when she really does return home.

And, so we pray, for this family and the millions of other refugees around the globe. These modern day exiles. We pray that they will return home. That they will no longer be trapped between the now and the not yet. We pray for peace–not the absent of conflict–but the presence of Emmanuel–God with us.

Even in midst of the conflict, we pray that more and more of these exiles will be able to say like this dear lady, “I feel like I am home.”

Our prayer for them all resounds, “God, do it again!”

 

Advent14 — Come, Lord Jesus!

A reading from the Gospel of Mark.

The beginning of the good news about Jesus Christ, God’s Son, happened just as it was written about in the prophecy of Isaiah:

Look, I am sending my messenger before you. He will prepare your way, a voice shouting in the wilderness: “Prepare the way for the Lord; make his paths straight.”

John the Baptist was in the wilderness calling for people to be baptized to show that they were changing their hearts and lives and wanted God to forgive their sins. Everyone in Judea and all the people of Jerusalem went out to the Jordan River and were being baptized by John as they confessed their sins. John wore clothes made of camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist. He ate locusts and wild honey. He announced, “One stronger than I am is coming after me. I’m not even worthy to bend over and loosen the strap of his sandals. I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

Mark 1:1-8 (CEB)

This is the Word of the Lord.

John the Baptist is one of my favorite men in the Bible. I've written about him in other places on this blog. He's one of these people who loom much larger than life. He towers above other characters.

Camel hair.

Locusts.

Leather belt.

Wild honey.

And, proclaiming a message unlike any ever heard: “Prepare the way!”

Last year, when we were in Central Asia, we were privileged to witness the baptism of a new indigenous believer. It was amazing to know and see one more person entering into the Kingdom. Beginning that walk that leads from the cross to eternity. Beginning his new life in heaven now, yet also anticipating a life that goes on for eternity.

Occasionally, when I take communion, especially in creative access nations, I think of this man and his baptism. I think of how communion is that family dinner that spans time and space. Together with all the saints. Those who have come before and those who are yet to come.

And, John comes to prepare the way. He comes to proclaim that the time is now ripe for Messiah. Like a herald in a medieval castle. He comes to proclaim that all things are ready. The King is coming.

We look at the world today, and hear it screaming out in pain. The UN tells us that millions of Syrians are refugees or internally displaced peoples. Another couple of million have fled from Iraq to Kurdistan. Children are without education or even the possibility of education. An entire generation stands in the balance.

Men and women and boys and girls in so many places on the planet cry out for rescue.

For redemption.

For a new kingdom.

For a home.

And, Jesus stands at the ready. Yet, he wants you and I to partner with him in bringing Advent–hope, peace, joy, and love–to these people.

We bring Advent with every prayer we pray for them.

We bring Advent with every dollar we give.

We bring Advent with every worker we send.

We bring Advent with every water well we drill.

We bring Advent with every preschooler and mother we teach.

Somedays, it seems that the road to the manger will never end. It seems that we will always be stuck between a promise of redemption and actual redemption. We stop at places along the path and stand in sacred silence with nothing to say except “Come, Lord Jesus.”

The hope of Advent is that the Messiah is on the way. He brings with him peace, and joy, and love. He comes to bring justice–the setting right of all things

And, so, we cry out, “Come! Lord Jesus!”

 

Advent14 — The Waiting Begins

Yesterday, in churches and homes all over the globe, a candle was lit. The first of four. The beginning of a new year in the church calendar. The beginning of Advent.

Advent. A word that simply means coming. A word that is packed full of meaning and is wrapped up in hope, joy, peace, and love. A word that brings us to that place between knowing that the Messiah has come and waiting for the Messiah to come.

It is that brief period of the church calendar where we position ourselves with an oppressed people longing for rescue. We–purposely–find ourselves between Malachi and Matthew. Wondering if things will ever be better. Knowing that for centuries “better” has been prophectically pronounced.

The King is coming!

Prophets of old have told us. Our parents have passed it on to us. The King. He is indeed coming.

At any moment now.

And, yet.

We’re a captive people. Captive in our own land. Captive in our own homes. Captive in a world that couldn’t care less that we stand in anticipation of rescue. In fact, we are captive in a world that mocks our anticipation.

And, we wait.

The Prophets once told us that this King would be called Immanuel.

Immanuel. God with us.

And, yet, we wonder if God could ever be with us. How, into this mess of a world, could God come?

Death. Some of it to disease or accident. Some at the hands of another.

Illness. Some curable. Some not.

War. Some in the name of money or resource. Some in the name of the very God we hope will come near. Some of it even considered just and right.

Hunger. Some due to famine. Some due to stinginess of those who have more than enough. Some due to neglect.

And, into this world, we wonder how God could come. And, yet, He does.

We learned over the weekend that a group of gunmen stormed a residence in Central Asian nation and opened fire on three South Africans who were there to help provide education to the children of the nation. A father and two teenaged children gunned down, and then the house burned. The mother, a doctor, was at the hospital bringing healing to the hurting–some of whom may even have been in support of the gunmen. For Warner, Jean-Pierre, and Rode, they rest tonight in the arms of loving–and near–God. For Hannelle, questions and fear and no rest. Yet, still in the arms of a loving–and near–God.

Three lives given–given so that others–strangers–might have an opportunity to a life of fullness.

One life remaining–longing for God to come near.

It is there in the tension that we long for the Messiah. We yearn for the Kingdom where lion and lamb will lie side-by-side. We hope for the place where weapons of death–guns, and knives, and drones, and tanks, and missles, and planes–are beaten into things that bring life–plows, and shovels, and hoes, and rakes.

And, we wait for God to come near.

We’re hearing confirmation of the rumors that the World Food Progamme lacks the $60+million dollars necessary to continue to provide aid for refugees who have fled the conflict in Iraq and Syria. And, so, more than one-and-a-half million people are forced to wonder from where they will receive bread and milk. Hundreds of thousands of children sit on the brink of starvation. Rumor has it that it’s not just this United Nations program that is lacking funding, but it is also many Non-Governmental Agencies–some even faith-based–that lack funding.

We are also aware that some of the food, coal, blankets, tents, clothes that should have found it’s way to these displaced peoples didn’t. Whether stolen, sold, or otherwise, the situation is dire.

And, we wait for God to come near.

And, God does indeed come near.

He comes near in the birth of a baby. In the unlikliest of places. To the unlikliest of parents. Immanuel. God with us.

And, God does indeed come near.

At the hands of everyone who has answered the call to give more than they keep. The call to go where no one else will. The call to love the unloved–and the unloveable. The call to feed the hungry. The call to clothe the naked. In every answered call, God comes near.

And, God calls us to come near, and to be near. To be near the wife and mother who mourn. And, also, to be near the gunmen and their families. To be near the millions who are without a home or a country or a meal. And, also, to be near to those who have driven them from their homes and countries and meals.

Advent.

So, yesterday, we lit a candle. A flicker of light in the darkness. A candle that will be joined by another and another and another. And, then, by the candle of the Christ-child. And, then, by your candle–and mine.

Until, the room grows bright, and we are pushed out into the world to proclaim that the King has come. And, when the King comes, so does the Kingdom.

Kuş14 – Photo Journal 2

Well, it's been a couple of weeks since our last photo journal. We've explored more of our city. We've walked an average of 1.8 miles each day (with some days as much as 5 miles). We've ridden in dolmuş (a public transportation method) and autos–some even driven by me.

As we work our way through our days and through our city, we find ourselves looking for places where we can see the Kingdom of a God already present in the culture as well as the landscape. So, many places we look and see evidence that imbedded within the DNA of everyone–even those who don't yet walk out life in the Kingdom–is parts of the Kingdom. All mankind is created in the image (mirrors of His character and nature) of God.

So, here are some of the images we've captured in the past couple of weeks. Let them spark you in prayer and celebration of the beauty of God's creation. Join us in prayer as we seek to live out our lives incarnationally.

This is the Mosque at the top of the hill about two blocks from our Villa. Five times each day, we hear the Call to Prayer from this minaret. While it is intended to call our Muslim neighbors to prayer, it reminds us to pray for them.

When we packed for this trip, we forgot to pack Hot Wheels cars for Caleb. Fortunately, his friend here loaned him a few.

Sometimes, you just need a touch of home. I'm grateful for the ability to stream a little Arkansas Razorback football to Turkey.

The majority of the food that we eat comes from the local Pazar (weekly street market). While walking through the Pazar it is not unusual to see the merchants cutting fresh fruit and offering it to you as you walk by. The other day as we walked through I was struck with the thought that the Kingdom of God is like the merchant in the Pazar who sells you 1.1 kilograms of fruit for the price of 1 kilogram.

The sunsets here on the Aegean Coast never cease to amaze me. The Psalmist writes (and Eugene Peterson interprets), “That's how God's Word vaults across the skies from sunrise to sunset, melting ice, scorching deserts, warming hearts to faith.” (Psalm 19:6, The Message)

One day last week, I went out for coffee with a friend here in Kuşadası. What a blessing it was to sit for a couple of hours with him and hear the dreams that God has placed within him. Our view from the table on the deck at Starbucks was a phenomenal view of the island in the harbor.

Finally, yesterday evening we were at our friends house here watching their kids as they went out of town to celebrate their 19th wedding anniversary. As I walked out of their Sitesi (housing complex) to run to the store, I snapped this photo of their common area. What a beautiful reminder that God in His creativity loves us so much that He provided such detail and color for us to be inspired–and reminded of His faithfulness–by.

 

 

Kuş14 – Photo Journal 1

On Sunday, 13 October, we flew out of Oklahoma City headed for Kuşadası. We had an hour-and-a-half delay in Oklahoma City due to the recent Air Traffic Control issues in Chicago. This basically ate up our entire layover in Chicago. So, we ran like we were being chased by bulls through O'Hare and made it to our connecting flight to Munich in the nick-of-time. We arrived in İzmir about 21 hours after leaving Oklahoma City unscathed and with all our luggage. Both of which were nothing less than miracles.

We spent the past few days getting used to our new neighborhood and establishing a new normal. We have a fantastic Villa about a 3 minute walk from the water in an area of town called Kandılar Denizi.

We've explored our neighborhood both on foot and on the Dolmuş (which is a form of public transportation). One day, Emily and I rode the Dolmuş that stops outside of our Villa. Our goal was to ride it throughout it's entire route making notes as to where it stopped and how far (timewise) that was from our Villa. We got kicked off twice–once at the end of the line and the second time because the guy didn't understand what we were trying to accomplish.

We attended church on Sunday at New Covenant (the church that is Pastored by the family which we are here to serve). Had a great time there. Afterwards, we walked through the neighborhood where we stayed when we were in this city 2 years ago, and ate lunch at a great place called Saray (same menu as they had when we ate there back then).

We ended our Sunday with a walk along the Kandılar Denizi. It was about 70° with a breeze coming off the sea. But, there was a remarkable sunset.

 

 

Be careful!

As I’ve laid awake jet-lagged at 4:00am for the last two hours tonight, I’ve been reflecting on how much I was told to be careful as I left the comforts of America for Turkey (which, by the way, holds its own but different sets of comfort for us). “Be careful.” What does that even mean? The two words are care and full. What does a life full of care look like?

My favorite book says to love your neighbor (cross-cultural context) as yourself. My Big Brother has told me that our Dad has such a close eye on us that he even knows how many hairs are on our heads. In fact, Dad is so watchful of all things, He even knows when a sparrow, which is sold at a rate of five for $0.02, falls. Because my Dad loves, values, and cares for me so much, I don’t have to worry about myself. Dad would much rather me have my eyes on Him—seeing what He’s seeing, doing what He’s doing, saying what He’s saying—than worrying about what I’m going to eat, drink, or wear. He’s going to feed, water, and dress me. He actually loves doing that kind of stuff so much so that He makes sure all the flowers in the field are dressed with the most beautiful petals and leaves too. That’s just who He is.

So knowing all this, I really don’t need to be full of care for myself. However, I still agree with those who tell me to be careful if that means living a life full of care. My Book is teaching me to use my food to give the hungry a meal, to use my water to give the thirsty a drink, to use my home to invite in the stranger, to use my clothes to dress the naked, to use my time to care for the sick and to visit the imprisoned. This seems to be the right and appropriate focus of care.

So yes, I will try to be careful. It’s a more difficult road to take, a more narrow road, but it’s the road I want to travel on. The easy way out would be to live care-free, not caring about the poor, the brokenhearted, the captives, and the prisoners. That’s the easy way out because I can be care-free in my own strength. It doesn’t take work. I hate to admit it, but the easy way out comes pretty naturally for me.

But I can’t bring good news to the poor and healing to the broken and freedom for the captives and light for the prisoners living in darkness in my own strength. To live that way, I need to remain in Jesus with Jesus remaining in me. I need to live with His anointing and His spirit on me. And that’s possible because of how much He loves me, and how much He loves all those He has sent me to love and care for with His grace, His compassion, and His love.

Dreaming and imagining with God tonight of living life carefully!