Monday, April 28, 2014

The Chair {A Tribute to His Dad...}

It sits on our front porch and rocks gently in the breeze.  As though it has always been here - as though a long lost friend has come home.

Tony's mom and brother came to help with the move - they rolled up sleeves and bent backs to load and clean. They came to walk us through those first few days when I stood overwhelmed in a kitchen larger than I had ever had before.

I mean, seriously...what is supposed to go in all those drawers?

I know the dangers and it crosses my mind every once in a while when I curl up on the cushion and pull my legs in close.  I'm aware of my neighbours and the dealings that some of them deal and I know that guns could be involved at any moment...but I also know that there is nothing more soothing that a slow rock in the sunlight while the birds are singing and a little boy runs his trucks through the flower bed just below.

But his mom, she brings this chair and my only memory of it was of those dark days when we drove away from Canada. When we found refuge in her home in those transition days and Tony would build up that fire and I would curl up in that chair and rock in the firelight with my bible open but unread in my lap.

I didn't realize that there was a longer history that was about to come full circle.

She placed it there in its spot on the front porch and everyone took a turn over the next few days to sink down into its comfort and ease into this new space called "home".

And I think it was in the evening, when we were all exhausted but not ready to go to bed that she shared with me the story of the chair...

Over 40 years ago now, there was a boy and girl who fell madly in love and married faster than anyone could blink - and this groom? He found a perfect little spot for them to make a home in the middle of a not-so-great part in downtown Portland.

He brought his bride there the night of their wedding and in the rain and the mud their car got stuck and there they sat until a police officer showed up and offered them help.

He also offered some wisdom to this starry-eyed couple...

He told them to leave - to find a home in a safer part of town.

But this groom? He told this officer that *this* was going to be their home - that they were going to love Jesus and their neighbours here. That that this was part of their ministry.

And so they stayed.

So did this chair. It sat out in front of their home and rocked in rainy Portland nights and traveled through many miles to each home that they would settle in.

And that groom - his ministry...his legacy lives on in his son.

His son who wraps me up in his arms at night and prays brave prayers over me and loves us all fiercely. 

This's more than a place to rest. It's a testimony of sorts - that loving doesn't mean just loving the people most like you. It means loving all the people around you.

It's a reminder that failure and brokenness and sin don't have the last word - Jesus does.

This chair sits out on my front porch, not just because it looks right and perfect there, but because my heart needs to be reminded that when he matter how he died...his dad passed the baton of faith on. And we are taking our turn in the race, running with Christ as our goal.

Because maybe one day, when we are gray and aging, this chair will grace the front porch of one of our children, beckoning them to keep running towards Home...

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A Letter to My Four

We've been in this house for 21 days and I think I'm the only one who has dealt with any culture shock.

I wasn't expecting it - I think I was more prepared to walk the four of you through the change, but you made up your beds that first day and you snuggled in for the night and I was the one who sat up in the dark with eyes opened wide wondering about this path that God has led us on.

It wasn't fear that kept me up, but this feeling of being caught. Caught in the middle of two very different communities who both think that your daddy and I are slightly crazy for packing up this family of six and moving us "down here".

There's a woman, she's younger then me...I met her that first day we unloaded those boxes. I was in the backyard talking chickens with Valentina when she stopped at the fence and gave me her name.

She's had a few teeth knocked out by the looks of it.

She walked by the next day too and I waved, because that's what I do, and she approached me slowly and then asked,

Ummm...are you from around here?

I never know how to answer, because when you've moved as many times as we have, I'm not really from around anywhere, but your daddy stepped in because he saw where this was going and he told her why we were here and moving on to this street.

You were all running in the front yard with the dog so I'm pretty sure you didn't hear her response, but she looked at me like I was crazy.

Why would your move down here? You have kids! There are gang shootings and drugs all around you! You have kids! 

And then she said even quieter,

I would give anything to move away from this place...

Last night, an article started circulating around Facebook. I didn't read it, but by the gist of the comments I was reading *about* it, the city that we live in is apparently one of the top ten most terrifying cities to live in the United States.

And we moved right down into the thick of it.

We moved *you* right down into the thick of it.

The week before we moved in while Olivia and your daddy were outside in the playground, 7 shots were fired into the street. Right in front of this very house we now live in.

One bullet flies wrong and my world...

I don't have the words.

And yet...

I think of Jesus. How He left the beauty and the purity and the perfection of Heaven. How He gave up all that He had to come down here - to the brokenness and the the depravity of us. He did it because He loved us. Us? The very people who would insult Him and crucify Him - question His sanity and mock and ridicule Him at the end...He left the glory He had to be covered in our dust.

Our house that we left was simple, nothing grand or opulent. Our street was quiet, mostly seniors and maybe 4 other children. But what started out last summer as a quiet pull turned into a determination that could only come from the very Spirit of God. He moved us all out of what is considered safe into a situation that to some appears foolish.

But I want to write this down so that you will see. So that I will see. So that we will know.

Even here, where the world looks and raises eyebrows at our street number, where our sanity is questioned and our motives are scrutinized, even here we are safe.

We are safe, sweet ones, because the Eternal God Who became a man - Who died and rose again, He is our refuge.

Not this house, though at 108 years old, it is solid.

Not the lights I leave on at night, though they give a pretty glow.

Not a dog who growls and barks, because really, he's just a puppy anyways.

Nothing that we surround ourselves with is what keeps us safe.  Our God does that. Because even if a bullet flies wrong and our world is shattered and broken - His Hands surrounds us. He is our shelter. Nothing, nothing can rip us out of His Hands.

Call me crazy - I don't care. We moved because His love has moved in us.

Don't call me brave, because I'm not. I'm just desperate for Jesus, desperate to be in His Will. Desperate for you to see that living for Him is worth it.

You are my treasures, my sweet gifts, and you have been thrown into an adventure that you didn't choose, but the joy, the healing you are finding here in this place is a beautiful gift I didn't expect.

This is all a gift - one I am so grateful to have received.

I love you. So very much.

~Your Mama