Thursday, September 8, 2016

When Life Comes Screeching to a Halt

We have been transitioning to the beautiful country of Nicaragua for the past month (or so).  Before we moved, we had discussed expectations and tried to carefully recognize every expectation we had, so that our transition would be easier than expected.  

Much to our surprise things seemed to fall into place faster and easier than our expectations.  Our teammates were great at preparing us, talking about expectations and pacing us slowly.  We got settled into our house much faster than expected and felt like we could begin meeting our church and school leaders.

The kids started school and although it was not a perfect start to the school year, things seem to be falling into place for the boys.  We have been thoroughly blessed to have our kids at such an amazing school, one with a passion for missionary kids.

Barry went with our teammate to a town a few hours away (Matagalpa) to work with a team from Canada.  I had been preparing for Barry's time away since we had arrived here in Nicaragua.  Barry left on Saturday evening and I began the venture of being a single mom in Nicaragua (with the knowledge that our other teammate would be caring for her family during the week as well).  

Although the week was not without glitches, it was going much better than my expectations.  The boys and I were doing well and were not "just" in the house.  We ventured out to eat with our teammate and her kids, had ice cream after school one day, and I went to the grocery store.  

Thursday morning I dropped the boys off at school and was heading to my teammate's house.  We were going to go visit one of the schools in Tipitapa.  And that is when life came to a screeching halt.

I did not know exactly where her house was.  However, I knew I was close.  I saw a "parking lot" and thought I would pull in there, park and give her a call.  As I turned in, a motorcycle decided to try to go around me (on the right).  Yes, you got it...he ran right into the side of my car.

Within seconds there were 20-30 police (the parking lot was  a parking lot for the Criminal Investigations Police Department).  An ambulance arrived.  The police took my driver's license and other important documents.  It all seems like a dream.  It all was so different; it all was so new (I had never been pulled over, given a ticket or in an accident while driving in my past); it all was so interesting.  And yet all I could think about was the man on the motorcycle.  

There are lots of details to the story about my two day ordeal with the police; however, the important details are that the man is alright and that there are no long term consequences for either of us.

When life came screeching to a halt Jesus began speaking, opening my eyes, and giving His peace.

The Lord brought scriptures to me:

"For our present troubles are quite small and won't last very long.  Yet they produce for us an immeasurably great glory that will last forever!  So we don't look at the troubles we can see right now; rather we look forward to what we have not yet seen.  For the troubles we see will soon be over, but the joys to come will last forever." 2 Corinthians 4:17-18

"You are the most handsome of all, Gracious words stream from your lips. God himself has blessed you forever.  Put on your sword, O mighty warrior!  You are so glorious, so majestic!  In your majesty, ride out to victory, defending truth, humility and justice.  Go forth to perform awe-inspiring deeds!  Your arrows are sharp, piercing your enemies' hearts.  The nations fall before you, lying down beneath your feet.  Your throne, O God, endures forever and ever.  Your royal power is expressed in justice.  You love what is right and hate what is wrong.  Therefore God,your God has anointed you, pouring out the oil of joy on you more than on anyone else."
Psalm 45:2-7

"We try to live in such a way that no one will be hindered from finding the Lord by the way we act, and so no one can find fault with our ministry.  In everything we do we try to show that we are true ministers of Gd.  We patiently endure troubles and hardships and calamities of every kind.  We have been beaten, been put in jail, faced angry mobs, worked to exhaustion, endured sleepless nights and gone without food.  We have proved ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, our sincere love and the power of the Holy Spirit.  We have faithfully preached the truth.  God's power has been working in us.  We have righteousness as our weapon, both to attach and to defend ourselves.  We serve God whether people honor us or despise us, whether they slander us or praise us."
2 Corinthians 6:3-8

The Lord opened my eyes.

The injustice in life (especially in developing countries) is often the norm.  Kids (and adults) are fearful of police.  Truth is not fought for.  Abuse of power is all around me.

And maybe, just maybe, the Lord wanted me to experience injustice, personally, so that, I can understand the hearts of the people all around me.  So that I can sympathize and can cry with the beautiful people of Nicaragua (and other Central American countries).  So that I can understand the hopelessness that is felt.

The Lord gave me His peace.

To say I was nervous was an understatement.  Having to explain everything in Spanish (and with new vocabulary and with a new Nicaraguan accent) seemed impossible.  However, every step of the way the Lord was with me. 

As I returned to the police department on Friday to finish the process, I had a strange peace.  No, I did not want to be there.  No, I did not expect justice to be served. 

I had been praying that the Light of the Lord would be seen.  That every person I came in contact with would miraculously see Jesus, somehow.  I prayed that somehow, some way Jesus would be glorified.

And as I walked into the police department I had a peace that He was with me.  And He was in control.

Sometimes when life comes screeching to a halt it is for Jesus to reveal Himself, it is for Jesus to do something special, it is for Jesus to be glorified.

And although I am not back driving, yet, I am at peace and I am thankful for the "halt."

Tuesday, July 5, 2016


There are many things I enjoy in life, but writing is not one of them. And here in language school (in Costa Rica), I seem to write almost every day in a new language.  This has made my desire to blog even less.  

If I had my way, I would be sitting at a coffee shop with you and chatting away.  As we sip our drinks, we would share how our kids are doing, when our summer vacations are planned for (and all those fun details), and all about the last date that our husbands took us on.  Eventually, if I feel safe enough, I may share what God is teaching me; the real, raw, and ugly lessons that God is presently teaching me.  

I am sure I would start off a little embarrassed and possibly apologize for the bluntness (and possibly the offensiveness) of what He's teaching me.  Depending on your reaction, it's quite possible that the next thing you might hear me say is, "God is teaching me the importance of being NAKED."

Yes, you read that correctly. God is teaching me the importance of being NAKED. 

I have spent the past ten months in a state of nakedness.  During these months my entire identity has been stripped away as I have had to learn/re-learn: how to grocery shop; how to cross the street; how to get out of my house and the surrounding bars quickly (if needed); and how to pay the electric bill (don't you also pay yours at the grocery store?).  

I have been thrown into a world where you meet a new person and become their best friend in 2 days, so that you can have a friend for the next 3 months, before you have to say goodbye and move to separate countries.  I spent years in the United States working on my bachelor's degree and then on my master's degree and years in becoming a professional educator, only to have those years lose their significance.  After all, who cares who you were before, when you sound like a two year old when you talk?  There have been times where I have been so sick and the muscles in my body were so weak, when I coughed I would wet myself (and not just a tinkle).  I have had to depend on doctors, nurses and medicine to help me breath on a daily basis.

Isn't life like that?  What once had significance, no longer does.  Businesses come and go.  People come into our lives, we love on them, share life with them, open our hearts to them and then circumstances happen and they are gone.  We find a ministry where we are using our gifts and talents.  We are encouraged and enjoying it and then something happens that completely changes the ministry.  Our health changes and we see that our bodies are weak.

It seems like I (and maybe you can relate) have spent the past 10 months trying to find significance; I have been searching for me.

A couple of weeks ago the Lord used the gifts of Ray Ortlund to speak into my empty heart.  Ray had us reflect on the following question:

"What kind of Christianity do broken people want to be a part of?"

We spent the week digging into:  Grace in Justification, Grace in Sanctification, Grace in Community, Grace in Weakness, and more.  As we dug into these deep concepts, Ray shared many simple truths.  One specific simple truth was that because of the cross of Jesus, God doesn't care about what we deserve. Christ suffered (like we deserve) so we could receive Heaven (what we don't deserve) and be in relationship with him.

As the truth of this sunk into my heart, my mind was on the cross.  I could see Jesus, with blood dripping down his face, his hands, his chest.  On the parts of his body where the skin was not ripped open, I could see bruises all over. I could see the hurt in his eyes; the betrayal of people who were his closest of friends.  I could see his nakedness; his body was left bare for the whole world to see. 

I immediately felt embarrassed for Jesus; humiliated for him. How horrible to be completely naked, bloody, beaten up and hanging on a cross, as a spectacle for all to see.

  I felt this way until the Lord reminded me of Adam and Eve in Genesis 2:25 where it says, "Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame."  Wow! I was created to be in relationship with others, completely "naked"; completely vulnerable and without shame.  When I am open and honest, allowing the real me to be seen, my faults are evident; my sins are written on the banner; my ugliness, my unfairness, my critical spirit, my fear of failure, my comparisons, my judgments are all there for the world to see.  And yet, Jesus' blood covers it all and so what the world really sees is Him.

Wow; I can stop covering up who I am!  I can be me.  I can repent; I can be honest; I can allow others to see the good, the bad and the ugly. I can trust that Jesus will redeem it all so that HE alone will be seen!

In my "nakedness" Christ will be seen.

Made Alive in Christ

Ephesians 2 (NIV)
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time,gratifying the cravings of our flesh[a] and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace,expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

A Tornado, Watch Out!

As hard as it is to believe, it's still the truth: the V-Team has been in Costa Rica for almost two months.  In some ways it seems like it has been a year, and in others ways it seems like yesterday since we boarded the plane and said, "Good-bye for now" to North America.

I know, and now believe more than ever before, that God has called us to San Jose, Costa Rica (for this year); more specifically, to Instituto de Lengua Espanol (Spanish Language Institute).  I am truly excited and invested in this year of learning and being stretched.  I also know and believe more than ever before that part of God's plan still includes Nicaragua, Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras.  I am thoroughly excited about all of the possibilities that God has to use our gifts, talents and hearts in those countries.

Often times when a storm comes that produces a tornado, there is not much time for preparation.  The effects of the tornado can sneak up on you and before you get a chance to get to a safe location you are experiencing the effects of the tornado winds and forces.  

I have been sensing a tornado of emotions lately.  I am so excited about learning Spanish.  It was wonderful to be in Nicaragua for a couple of days and to dream about what the Lord may have for us there.  I have fallen in love with the Latino culture, again.  

However, in the process of falling in love with this culture I have been reminded of the people that I call family, the people that I call friends, the people that I call teammates, the people that I fell in love with in Guatemala...and I miss them.  Yes, I deeply miss them.  

In some ways I sense a grieving for those relationships and yet a strong peace that the relationships that I am building here are just as important.  It seems so crazy to have these emotions that seem so opposing.  It feels like a tornado of emotions raging through my life.

And yet, as the tornado of emotions is spinning around happiness, sadness, laughter, crying, joy, sorrow, grief, freedom, loneliness (and many more in my life), I am reminded of what Hebrews 13:14 says:

One day I hope to be reunited with all my family, friends, teammates and all the friends and people the Lord still plans to have join my life in the same place for one gigantic, eternal "get-together."  And to think we will be joined by the one-true God...that is enough to start another tornado of emotions...

Tuesday, February 23, 2016


un·script·ed (ənˈskriptid) - not adhering to or in accordance with a script written beforehand

When we left the United States for Costa Rica 6 months ago (August 24th) I pretty much had the script of our life written out for the next year. It went a little something like this. Arrive in our new country and settle in. Adjust and adapt our family to starting life in a new culture. Get the boys enrolled in school. Start language learning ourselves. Grow tremendously in our language ability over our 12 months in Costa Rica. Transition to our base of operations in Nicaragua right around the year mark, August 2016. That's what I expected; that's what I had scripted.

However, my expectation has not been met by my reality. My script has been tossed aside for the unscripted. While language learning and assimilation to a new culture and a new way of life have gone tremendously for us, I did not script hearing a doctor say "we're going to need to admit you" to my bride. I did not script having to say goodbye to my love as I left her hospital room in order to go pick our boys up from school. I didn't script our youngest crying uncontrollably when I shared that his mom wasn't coming home that night because she was in the hospital. I didn't script the feeling of loss and loneliness that comes with sleeping alone (well, I take that back - I've had two young'ens keeping me safe through the night), or should I say without my partner in life and "crime" right there by my side throughout the night. I did not script that after two full days in the hospital that they would still be at a loss as to how to bring healing and wholeness to her body; that in fact her 3-4 days could turn in to 6-7 or who really knows how long at this point.

But let me share one more thing I didn't script. I didn't script how God, through His Word and Presence, could bring comfort in the time of trouble; joy in the time of despair; peace in the time of unrest. He is our Rock; He is our Hope; He is our Stay. I could not have scripted God caring for my bride so much that He would choose to place her in a top-notch Christian hospital (perhaps one of the best in all of the Country) where even the doctors come around to pray for the patients. 

I can't stop there though. There's one more thing I didn't script. I didn't script the beautiful and awesome body of believers; the family we call ILE (our language school) coming around us in this time of need. There's just something amazing about this community within which the Lord has chosen to place us. For 11 years of pastoral ministry at Radford Wesleyan we truly understood the value and the authenticity of true community. After we resigned from the church (to pursue this calling to missions) we spent a year of our life in transition visiting a different church almost every Sunday (over 35 in 52 weeks) and we lost this most crucial, vital and life-giving resource. It was something we continually grasped at and longed for yet could never fully attain. Until...until the Lord brought us to Costa Rica, specifically to ILE. 

And it's in this moment that I am reminded again of the beauty of the unscripted; of the rawness that comes from seeing a different script and a different plan play out than the one you were expecting. And it's the bigger truth here that brings me comfort on a night like tonight - just because it was unscripted to me, doesn't at all mean that it was unscripted to God. And in that we can find our rest; in that we can find our peace; in that we can find our hope! 

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Does Your Homework Speak?

Does Your Homework Speak?  I am being for real...does it?

My homework speaks!  

This trimester of language learning is different than the first trimester, especially in our language class. In there, we spend the whole time focusing on talking. NO, not talking in English; rather, talking in Spanish. There are six of us in class and we each have approximately 15 minutes of talk time (well, that includes our corrections, which at times can take up half or more of the just depends ;) each class period.

Our sweet and very talented teacher, Lissette (pictured above), guides those conversations by giving us different themes or topics to prepare for each day.  Lately, some of our topics have been:

  • Una persona biblico- mujer de A.T. (a female from the Old Testament)
  • Una persona bilbico- mujer de N.T. (a female from the New Testament)
  • Una biografia de una persona imporante or famoso (a biography of an important or famous person)

    So, in my preparations, I decided to choose:  Hannah; The Sinful Woman; and Sojourner Truth. However, I had no clue what God wanted to remind me through studying and preparing to speak about these beautiful women.

    I am once again brought to my knees by how The Father sees value, identity, treasure, love and purpose in those who are broken and often written off by man.  

    Una persona biblico- mujer de A.T. ~ Hannah

    Hannah, a barren woman, begging God for a son; so much so that her uncontrollable weeping at the altar caused the priest to think that she was drunk. She was the "other wife". Although treasured by Elkanah, she was tormented by his second wife. Her heart desired a son so bad that she was willing to surrender him to the Lord and in doing this would separate herself from his development and trust the priest to raise him.  

    I don't know about you, but I have not allowed myself to be that raw at the altar in a long time. And yet, Hannah provides this example of vulnerability, raw emotions, organic in her conversation and the Lord sees her as beautiful, blessed and as Samuel's momma.  Not only does He reward her faithfulness through Samuel's life, He also allows her to have other children.

    Una persona bilbico- mujer de N.T ~ The Sinful Woman

    I have always been intrigued and moved by the story of the sinful woman. However, something about calling her "La Mujer Pecadora" caught my attention in a new way.  

    Part of our assignment was to think about the person and describe them. So often I find myself wanting to say, "Well the Bible is not clear on that..." and leave it at that. But my heart sunk into the face of this girl. Her sunken eyes, full of pain and hurt from a life of prostitution and sin (possibly with no escape, possibly not by her choice or maybe by her choice but because she did not see anyway out). Her slender, weak body which so often would catch the eyes of the men who would help provide her dinner that evening.  Her long wavy hair, which so easily covered her face filled with shame, hurt and torment from her life choices and/or situations.  

    All of this and God chose to use her to anoint the feet of Jesus. He didn't choose Jesus' mother Mary or the other Mary, or Martha, or Jesus' disciplines or me or you...He chose La Mujer Pecadora. He chose to use the tears from her brokenness, guilt, and shame to wash the feet of Jesus.  He saw her in her sin and called her to a huge ministry of preparing Jesus' body for what was to come and which ultimately led to her sins being forgiven.  

    Una biografia de una persona imporante or famoso ~ Sojourner Truth

    Sojourner Truth (as we know her today) was really Isabella Baumfree. Her date of birth is unknown because she was born a slave and slave birth dates were not important. She was "written off" by man immediately, yet God saw a fighter, a leader and someone He treasured. She faced many trials in her life as a slave. However, once she found freedom, she began fighting for others' freedom, including her own children. She didn't hide because she was afraid she would be caught and put back into slavery; no, she fought. She fought for freedom from slavery and for women's rights.  

    If you haven't read her biography I would challenge you to take time to read it and allow her to inspire you to be who God has called you to be. I would also challenge you to find out more about the fight going on today to end slavery.  There are more slaves today than in all of history combined.  

    And then I am reminded of me, Christy. The one who struggles to learn a new language, who has been wrestling with some physical issues for two months, who struggles at time to be in the Word, who wrestles with comparisons, who fails at being a good friend, who is not patient with her kids, who doesn't serve her husband with pure love...and the list can go on and on. However, Jesus met me in a tender and sweet way. He spoke to my heart through my homework, that just like these ladies, He sees something special in me. He has a plan for me and has created me for a purpose. He desires to use my struggles and my heart for His Kingdom sake.

    And he desires to do the same with YOU! Dig in to Jesus and allow him to speak to you...maybe prepare a 15 minute presentation on my assignments (you can do it in English or whatever your heart language may be...or try it in Spanish) and see if God wants to speak to your heart, like he did mine.