Thursday, April 16, 2015

He looked into their eyes, both of them.

He shouldn’t have even been talking with the woman at the well because of her race. The woman with the issue of blood shouldn’t have even been near Him because of her uncleanliness. I shouldn’t even be allowed to approach Holy God because of my sin.

But Jesus. He looked into their eyes. He stopped what He was doing, stopped in the hustle and bustle of the day. And His gentle voice held their hearts as He spoke, “Daughter.”

We are just like them.

I am the Samaritan woman hiding from my sin in the heat of the day. My secrets take different forms than 5 former husbands, but I hide them just the same, down deep so that people won’t see. I wonder why He is even speaking to me, so ordinary. Doesn’t He know my faults? He does. And His desire is to heal, to comfort, to uplift. His desire is that I would know the lines under his eyes and the beads of sweat on his forehead and the lilt of his voice just as intimately as she did. My sin leaves me thirsty and I long for living water. I yearn for it and He gives it freely.

I am the woman with the issue of blood – persistent sickness in need of a Healer. Except I am a woman with the issue of sin instead, in need of a Savior to wash me clean. I am chasing after Him, reaching toward Him, longing just to touch the hem of His robe. And He is not far off. He turns toward me the way He turned toward her, kneels down, cups my chin in His hand.

“Daughter,” He says.

Can you hear Him?

And His words to us are the same as they were to those two. “You faith has made you well. Go in peace.”

He has made us well! Hallelujah! He has made us well and He has given us peace.
We are healed from our depravity, our iniquity, our wickedness. We are given peace from our struggling, our striving, our hurt. He loves us like that.

The sick woman chases after Jesus, after twelve years of no answers. It doesn’t matter what the world says, if they say she is dirty and hopeless. She chases after Him because she believes that He has what she needs, that He can heal her. And He does. She squeezes through the crowd, reaches for His hem, because she knows He is the Savior. And He is.

The woman at the well, she runs into the town to tell anyone, everyone what He has done for her. This man knows everything she has ever done and yet still He loves her and desires to set her free. They believe because of her testimony, they race to see for themselves, to hear and see and touch, and they too are saved.


We have received this same grace. So might we spend our whole lives like these women – broken, thirsty and in need of Him. Reaching out for Him, no matter the circumstance. Fearlessly hoping in Him regardless of what the world might say about our situation or the extent of our brokenness. Bearing our hearts to Him, no matter the shame of our sin. Running toward Him, no mater the distance. Boldly proclaiming to all the world, “Come and listen! Come and see what He has done for us. He has made us well! He has given us peace!” He loves us like that.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

It is rainy season again. My friend and I slip and slide down the muddy hill to Masese where we weekly study the word with a group of women who have become so dear to us. Every Tuesday we come, joyful and overflowing, or broken and weary, or anything in between and we don’t have to hide it because these women have become friends. We wear our babies on our hips and we wear each others’ burdens. We break bread together in each others homes and each week we crack open His word desperate for His filling, searching for His wisdom, inquiring together, “What do you have for us, God.”

It is beautiful, when I have eyes to see. It is beautiful, but my heart isn’t prepared for Masese today.

We sit in a circle in the dirt space between falling-apart slum buildings and I scuff the dirt under my sandals and let my mind wander as the women share prayer requests, each of them more devastating than the last. Last week, just two days after I held her baby in this very circle, our friend was poisoned and quickly died. We shake our heads in disbelief and we try to remember the good things she brought to this community without losing hope. But as we continue to share, someone else’s mom is slowly dying of tuberculosis and some else’s daughter was assaulted and far too many people that everyone knows have fallen prey to alcoholism and addiction and we see the way this so quickly destroys the lives around us. And how do we not lose hope, I wonder. I let my mind wander because I am weary. I don’t want to engage in this kind of suffering again today. I live just a few minutes away from here but my life is still so different. My hard looks like teenagers with rolling eyes and fragile hearts that are crushed with a few wrong words or glances. Their hard is rampant disease and rape and murder. I haven’t spent enough time with Jesus and today I just can’t seem to open my heart to that kind of hurt without despair.

I force myself to get down in the dirt and lay my hands on a sick friend and pray. My hand is wet and I realize that she is letting her tears fall, vulnerable, in front of me, in front of our Father. Her hurt is different than mine, but really, it is the same. We are the same. Both just as in need of a Savior as the other. Both willing Him, begging Him to come quickly. I ask Him to open my heart to right here and right now. I ask Him to make Himself known.

We sit in the dirt and let the tears fall. And despite my best efforts to harden myself to the suffering today, Faithful God breaks me, gives me eyes not just to see the pain but to know it intimately. These aren’t just people. These are my friends. These are people I know, people He knows. I know their names, their husbands, their children. He knows each hair on their heads and the deepest cries of our heart.

I allow myself to imagine us in the palm of His hand. I imagine his tenderness as He numbered those hairs, I imagine His hand cupping my face as a Daddy cups the face of His daughter, and I imagine Him looking into these women’s eyes and smiling, delighted in His daughters. I close my eyes and in my mind I hear the voice of my husband as he sits on our bed and strums his guitar, “for mercy for comfort we wait on the Lord,” He sings.

Today I feel like we are just waiting. Today, hope is something we fight for.

A woman I don’t know very well walks by our circle. I have heard stories of her. She sits on the ground against the wall of the little dirt church we meet behind and stares vacantly. Nobody is really sure if she is disabled or if she has just been abused by so many men that she doesn’t talk anymore.

 Another woman who I know well and love dearly stumbles down the hill and nuzzles her head into my shoulder. She lived with us years ago as she recovered from alcoholism and her child recovered from resulting burns, but it is clear how drunk she is as she tries to communicate with me through language barriers and slurred speech. My eyes look into hers, blood-shot red, and I plead with her. She is such a good mother, sober. I ask where her little girl is, trying to remind her that being home alone is how she got so injured last time but she isn’t listening. She kisses my cheeks and stumbles away.

It is just days after they lowered our friend’s body into the ground because she was brutally, intentionally killed. Just a week ago she sat in this circle with us and now her body rots in the ground while we try to figure out who will check on her babies. The women look defeated. I feel defeated.

How do we find the hope of Jesus here? How do we proclaim that He is at work when we just can’t see it?

“Let us see you here, Lord,” I pray it desperately. He answers with Romans 2:8, “To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, He will give eternal life.” These women, they persist. Against all the odds, when it would be easier to just give up and go ahead and call this place hopeless, they cling to their hope in Jesus and the persist in doing good, they persist in seeking His glory.

I trudge back up the hill with my mind full of questions. God where are you in this mess? Where are you? As I ponder, my foot slips and lands in a mixture that is surely part alcohol and part human waste. I choose to call it mud and begin to sigh, of course. Two strong arms wrap around me from behind and Santina’s laughter fills my ears. She is laughing at me because she knows how distracted I was and of course, of course I stepped in the hole. She pulls my arm and drags me to her home where she pulls off my shoes and scrubs them in a basin of soapy water. Water isn’t an easy thing to come by around here and I can’t believe she is using it on my sandals. She proceeds to wash my feet. She is washing my feet and I want to protest but I think of Jesus. Bent down, towel around His waist, arguing with Peter who just doesn’t understand. He whispers to me, “See? Do you see Me? I am at work here.”

My stubborn heart may not always want to believe it but I know that it is true. He is at work here.

Margaret walks up the hill in front of me still giggling about my feet and my grumpy-ness. Margaret, who I thought would die. Margaret who at 19 years old held her 4 year old and her dead baby and bled and bled all alone in her house with no one to help her and no one to call family. Margaret who moved in just as frail and sick as Katherine or Betty. Margaret who slept on an extra mattress in my room for weeks because I was so afraid of death that the couch seemed too far away. Margaret who lived. She walks up the hill her arms full of necklaces that now provide for her and her little guy, both happy and healthy back at home in this community, and her heart full of God’s Word which she loves to share with others. “I am at work here,” He whispers, again and again. “Can you believe me? Can you believe my promises?”

Of course I do. I read the words of 1 Peter now that you have tasted that the Lord is good. I cannot deny that I have tasted of His goodness. I cannot deny that I have seen and known Him working all things for the good of those who love Him, even the ugly, hard, unspeakable things.

For mercy, for comfort, we wait on the Lord. And He is at work here.

What is too hard today, friends? What is too messy? It is hard to believe sometimes but we can know that God is good in that place. We’ve tasted and known His goodness, even in the impossibly hard places. Romans 2 says, “To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory honor and immortality, He will give eternal life.”


Persist in doing good, dear one. Persist in resting in and relying on Him. Peace that passes understanding is promised us, and eternal life awaits us!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

            For years, I have prayed Isaiah 61 over my family, asking the Lord to give beauty for ashes, asking Him to indeed grow these daughters of mine into oaks of righteousness, a planting for the display of His splendor. I have cried tears straight into the words “freedom for captives” as I begged this promise for a certain few of my little ladies specifically. I have rested in the promise of the oil of joy instead of mourning and I have rejoiced with the prophet Isaiah as each one has come to her own understanding that He has clothed her with garments of salvation and a robe of righteousness. My eyes stuck right there on Isaiah 61 praying in hope those words of verse 11, that the Lord would cause righteousness and praise to spring up before all nations.
            Only on Saturday morning, the morning after I married the very most Christ-like man I have ever met, did my eyes wander down past verse 11, down the page to Isaiah, Chapter 62. As if, now that I was beginning this new chapter of life, maybe God would give me a new chapter to pray over my family. My breath caught in my throat as I read these words that I somehow had never read before.
            “The nations will see your vindication, and all kings your glory. You will be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord will bestow. You will be a crown of splendor in the Lord’s hand, a royal diadem in the hand of your God. No longer will they call you Deserted, or your name Desolate. But you will be called Hephzibah (my delight is in her) and your land will be Beulah (married). For the Lord will take delight in you and your land will be married. As a young man marries a young woman, so will your Builder marry you; as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride, so will your God rejoice over you.”
            Right there on the thin, gilded page, was his heart for me, for Benji, for each of my girls, for our family – that we would know His delight in us, the way He rejoices over us.
            The last two years have been a different season. A season of quiet, of dark and sadness, of joys that felt too personal to share with anyone other than my Heavenly Father. I have tried to write many times, but I have been learning the beauty of the secret place, just Him and me. The Lord who knows my heart has been whispering to me of a new season for a long time, and my flesh has worried that this new season might take me out of my secret hiding place with Him, that somehow a physical, tangible relationship with another might take away from my relationship with my Builder, My Lover, My Life-Giver.
            Little did I know that this new relationship would only enhance the other.

            I became Mrs. Majors on January 2nd of this year. Benji is a discipler of men and a faithful maker of breakfast. Long before we shared a home we shared a hometown with only a few hilltops to keep our adolescent lives from ever intersecting.  As the Lord would have it, we would only meet on the other side of an ocean after He had captured our hearts with a love for the Ugandan people and a desire for The Word to go forth in this place. At first I was hesitant, but while Benji was patient, God was faithfully working on my heart. I watched him teach Bible studies and disciple men and fix my kids’ bikes. We laughed over coffee and all the crazy things that are life here. He taught me more and more about the love of Jesus, in his words, and in his example. He captured my heart. And on the night he washed my feet and asked me to be his forever, the yes jumped off my lips as if it had always been waiting there just for him.

I imagined marriage would be good. Wonderful even. But I did not even begin to understand that it would be this holy. I didn’t know that I would melt under this man’s gaze that is so full of the love of the Father for me. I didn’t imagine the way his delight in me would be my daily reminder of the way my Father delights in me. My husband’s love is just another way God has chosen to pour our His extravagant love on me, another constant reminder that He rejoices over me, and over each one of our daughters.
            I watch them come alive under the loving gaze of their new father, I hear the delight and the certainty in their voices as they call “Dad.” And without me even having to ask, God who knows my heart has given me my new prayer over them: that in knowing the delight of their earthly father, they would begin to grasp the delight of their Heavenly Father all the more. That they would be a crown of splendor in His hand, that they would embrace this new name: “my delight is in her.”


God gives good gifts. His delight is in me, in us, in them. May our delight be evermore in Him.





Tuesday, September 30, 2014

I have a friend named Simon.
He’s eleven.



I remember the day his family arrived here for the first time, Simon struggling to breathe and weak from the anesthesia of his first esophageal surgery. I remember the fear in his mother’s eyes as she left him here with his grandmother and me for middle of the night feedings through his new feeding tube and daily tracheotomy changes. They needed a place to stay that was near the hospital, just in case.

I remember when his surgeon first showed me all of his scans and my staff and I realized that we were looking at a miracle – a real, true miracle. How does a child live for ten years with out any ability to swallow food? I remember the certainty I felt that God wouldn’t have brought him this far unless He had an unbelievable plan.

I remember all the times I bumped into his grandmother coming out of her room to prepare food in the middle of the night as I got up to check on Betty. We nursed our patients and we swore when the power went out and we couldn’t use the blender to puree his food, and sometimes we just stared at each other through too-sleepy eyes. We whispered of God’s grace and we whispered of our sorrows. We reminded each other of the call to of God to longsuffering. I remember the way they held me when they learned that Betty had gone home to Jesus.

I remember all the things that went wrong. The moments of panic and the consistent, pleading prayers over Simon’s young, fragile life. His mom came to live with us when it got to be too much for his grandmother. We both learned to do things that we never imagined we could. We watched and prayed through eleven failed surgeries. Eleven. I remember the weight of our exhaustion that just settled down over my home and my heart. Would he ever get well? Ever?

I remember the day I realized with full clarity that Simon just Couldn’t get better in Uganda. We had the best surgeons and equipment our country could offer and it just wasn’t working. I remember his squeal as he took off on his very first airplane and his mother’s wide eyes as we entered the Atlanta airport over 30 hours later.

I remember the great delight I knew in watching my biological family welcome in members of our Ugandan family and the love that Simon and Anna felt everywhere we went. I remember how surreal it was to be back here in Uganda and know that they were safe and sound at the homes of my parents and closest friends in Nashville.

I remember the email that said that Simon’s surgeries were over and had been successful. Attached were confirmation numbers of his plane ticket home. I remember the elated, disbelieving faces of our dedicated staff when I shared the news. I remember my children counting down the days until they got here – our friends, now family members. And I remember her tears of gratitude on my shoulder as we embraced for the first time in months back where it all started, “God saved my son’s life.”

It is 20 months later. It feels like eternity.

And today they drove away smiling and laughing, arms excitedly waving out of van windows, as my children chased and waved just as hard. I stood in the driveway and let tears of joy well up in my eyes. They are well. They are well. Simon can swallow food just as well as any other eleven year old. He can play soccer with the best of them. Tomorrow, he’ll go back to third grade. Anna will be able to go back to work after completely surrendering all her dreams to take care of her son. They will wash dishes and do homework and laugh and sing and pray in their own little home just like so many other happy, healthy families. And we will stay here and do the same.

I stood in their room long after they left and ran my fingers of the words of Hebrews that I painted on the wall, mostly as a reminder to myself, “He who promised is faithful.” I can hardly believe His faithfulness to us, the fullness of all His promises unfolding right here before my eyes. I breathe deep relief. I allow myself to remember just how crazy hard it all was, just how long it has been, just how tired I have felt, and just how faithful he has been to each of us through all of it.



People ask me how we do it – all these people living, and sometimes dying, in our home. Most days I shake me head, I don’t know. Lots of days it’s just down right hard.  Some days it is more than exhausting. But today I remember. We hold out for the happy ending. Because where Jesus is, the happy ending is possible. It doesn’t always come, and that doesn’t mean He is not present, but still, it is possible.  Redemption is coming. And we don’t always get to glimpse His redemption here and now, but sometimes we do.

Today I remember. There isn’t always a happy ending… but sometimes, there is.



And He who promised is faithful.