One Year!
Oct
17

One Year!

I started reading the Gospel of John again.  His narrative is so full, and I’m finding I still have to read each line multiple times, mining in God’s Word.  At the end of the first chapter, Jesus calls His first disciples.  First, two followers of John the Baptist begin to follow Him.  Jesus asks them what they seek, and they inquire about where He is staying.

“Come, and you will see.”

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Later, Jesus decides to go to Galilee and finds Philip.

“Follow Me,” He says.

Philip finds Nathaniel and tells Him about finding the long awaited Messiah, that His name is Jesus, of Nazareth.  Nathaniel is skeptical, asking, “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?”

“Come and see.”

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I remember the Lord using this passage when we were first thinking about Ireland.  Jesus made no promises to these fishermen about security or comfort, not even a pitch about how great the adventure would be.  No brochure or video about the healing or miracles they’d witness, no warnings about the heartache and persecution.  He only asked them to follow.  To come, and see.

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And though these men were waiting for this promised Savior, they did have lives – jobs and families and communities they were a part of, security and control over their day to day.  It may have seemed like this sudden decision to follow Jesus was irresponsible, irrational even.  Why would they leave what they knew, the path they could see, and trade it for the unknown?

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The thing is, they did know one thing.  And this one thing, if true, warranted this incredibly high risk.  Somehow they knew – this was the Christ.  Jesus was the Messiah.  And it didn’t matter what excitement or darkness lie ahead, the cost of staying was greater than that of following Him.

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The Bible doesn’t say these men took time to weigh out this monumental decision.  No pros and cons list, no lengthy discussions with family recorded.  Maybe if we could see Jesus Himself, hand extended, inviting us to come with Him, we wouldn’t hesitate either.

For our family though, that wasn’t the case.  It took what seemed like a long time to decide to come to Ireland, much longer for Branden than for myself.  The Lord told me right away, that he was calling us here.  He didn’t tell Branden as quickly; He was working out so much in our hearts.  And so Branden talked about every risk, every possible consequence of taking such a big leap if it wasn’t from the Lord.  And though my heart was already on the island, I could understand what he was saying.

We would give up all we knew, any security we thought we had, proximity to family and friends and the community we loved, and go.  We would have to say, like the disciples did, that Jesus – who He is, no promises of more and guarantee of nothing less – is enough.

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Well, it’s been a year on the mission field in Ireland, and the overwhelming feeling is of gratitude.

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There have been challenges absolutely, days of feeling the distance from family and friends and home.  We’ve dealt with health issues, being overwhelmed learning to live in a new country and still functioning some in the other, just growing into this unique place of being missionaries.  But the Lord has been incredibly gracious and good to us!

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We have found another home in Ireland, a place with sweet fellowship and community with like minded believers, many with a hard fought, undeniable faith and a genuine love for God’s Word.  There is a need here in ministry and the Lord is using us to be a part of discipleship and reaching kids and families with His life changing Good News!  And He has been faithful.

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Jesus never said to follow an idea or philosophy, a set of rules or group of people.  He said to follow Him, which means He intends to be with us.  And so He has been.  And perhaps that’s what shuts the mouth of fear, when what’s unknown seems to grow and skew our perspective again.  He is with us.

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And the future?  Well, I’m convinced, it will always be in the “Come, and see.”  One and then the other.

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Sometimes I’m like Nathaniel, skeptical of Him and so sure of whatever else I know.  But if I come, with a willingness to see, Jesus will show me – great things, things I would never see otherwise, but even more, Jesus reveals Himself!

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And truly, what could compare to that?

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You might be tempted to think it’s different for you and me, that we’re here and not where you are.  But the call is the same for us all, and so is the promise.

Follow Him.  Come, and see!

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Photo Credit: Timothy James          Post Work/Editing: Ernie Treu

Hope
Mar
10

Hope

We could hear the muffled voice of a woman speaking into a megaphone.  A large crowd was gathered on the pavement outside Brown Thomas department store, some holding posters and signs above their heads.  An occasional cheer erupted as the woman spoke with conviction.

“What’s going on Mom?” Silas asked.

“I don’t know.”

It was Monday, our family day.  We had made breakfast, gone to a playground, eaten lunch at our favorite place in town.  Now on foot, we’d finished up with a few errands in the city center and were walking back to the church where our car was parked.  As we approached, we could see a symbol on the signs we didn’t recognize.  There were garda in reflective jackets standing amongst the crowd.  In front of the woman with the megaphone, there were several others holding a long banner.  This was a protest to repeal the law banning abortion in Ireland.

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The area was wide, but we had to walk through the crowd to get to where we were going.

“What’s going on Mom?”

There was a sign that said, “Warning: Graphic Abortion Photos Ahead.”  The boys were holding my hands, one on each side as we walked.

“Mom, what’s happening?”  Their voices sounded concerned now.

“Don’t look at the pictures.”  Ethan buried has face in my sleeve and I wrapped my arm around Silas to cover his eyes.  We walked quickly, Branden right behind us.

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There was a woman arguing with a man on our right.  As we passed, he said, “But there was no baby here.”  “Yes, there was!” she was almost shouting.

I couldn’t help but look at one of the large banners.  They were labelled with the number of weeks of gestation.  A graphic image filled each one.  Parts and pieces and medical utensils.  Children.

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We got through the crowd and kept walking.

“But Mom, what’s happening?”

I felt my face get hot, my eyes blurry.  I was looking down and buried my face in the front of my jacket.

“Mom, why are you crying?” Silas asked.  “She’s crying,” he turned and said to Branden.

Branden stopped me.  “Are you okay?”  I couldn’t really answer.  He put his arm around me.

“Lord help us.  This is where you have us.  This is how You feel when You see our sin.”  He contained to pray for me, for our family, for this country and the people we are called to love and serve.

People continued to pass us, walking around our little family huddle, past the protesters and giant banners.  I sobbed into Branden’s coat, still holding each of our boys by the hand.

The next hour was spent answering questions about abortion, what it is and why people are talking about it, about God’s heart and this broken world.

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There have been a couple of really sobering experiences that have taken place this week, and we’ve found ourselves  overwhelmed, feeling almost helpless.  In this world where sin and its effects seem so inevitable, how do we stand?  How do we disciple and train up our children?  How do we advance the Kingdom?  How do we love those in front of us?  My heart echoes Branden’s prayer – Lord help us.  This is where you have us.  This is how You feel when You see our sin.

A friend of mine said recently, “Where there is prayer, there is hope.”

Hebrews 12:2 says, “For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

He died in hope.  Rose in hope.  Believing and being joyful in anticipating that this broken world be brought back to Himself – broken and scarred, but reconciled.

So we pray, and bring our hearts to His own.  And we have hope.  Because the Lord’s love is greater, and if He allows us to be a part of this pursuit, this ministry of reconciliation, then He’ll give us the wisdom and grace to co-labor with Him in it – for our own children, and for those wandering all around us.

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Thank you for praying with us, for being a part of what God is doing here in Ireland.  It is still illegal to abort a child here, except under extreme circumstances.  Currently there is a lot of talking/protesting/media coverage, but we know this is a heart issue and pray for the Lord to draw this nation back to Himself.  Please continue to labor with us in prayer.

Not Too Big
Feb
10

Not Too Big

It’s been just over a week since these ladies came to visit us!  We’d been talking about the possibility of them coming even before our family moved here in October.  There was a conference they’d be helping with in the UK.  I jokingly (but kind of  seriously :) insisted on them stopping through Ireland on the way back, since they’d be only an hour away.  I’m so thankful they made it happen!

I have to admit, I surprised myself, tearing up when they walked though our front door.  The last few months have been amazing and full and good.  There’s been (and continues to be) a lot of transition, and we are settling in to the new normal.  But somehow, their familiar faces, standing with luggage in hand, in our entry way – it got me.  They’d brought a little bit of home to us and I was both thankful and overwhelmed.  I suddenly realized how far away from the familiar we really are.

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We went to the ocean while they were here.  We actually hadn’t been to the beach since we’ve moved here.  Sometimes I forget we live on an island now!  The weather in Ireland can be unpredictable.  Actually, the forecast was quite grim for the two days they were supposed to be visiting.  I remember just praying for favor beforehand, that the Lord would hold off the crazy winds and pouring rain!  And the Lord answered!

When we got to the ocean though, it was pretty windy (as you can see in our picture above!)  The sky was thick and gray, the waves full of commotion and noise.  It was incredible, the water seemed to go on and on forever.

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We’d just walked down to the shoreline and it started to drizzle.  I thought is was the ocean misting up at us at first.  Within minutes, it was raining, then all but pouring!  There we were, three grown women, running from waves and trying to collect a few rocks, souvenirs from this side of the Atlantic!

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We probably only stayed about ten or fifteen minutes.  By the end of it we were all drenched, laughing and yelling to be heard over the water!

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I’m so thankful for these women, for two days packed with laughter and late night tea and easy, full conversations.  I’m thankful for memories made in full winter gear at the beach, with the ocean threatening to wash us away.  And I’m thankful especially for friends that make you feel like home is not so far away and the world is not too big.

Until next time…

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