Thoughts from an Ordinary Guy

This journey through life is never boring......

Month: March 2015 (page 1 of 4)

Broken

As some of you might know, my wife spent last week in Haiti.   She’s an RN and went down on a medical team to provide much lacking healthcare to the women and children involved with Haiti Foundation Against Poverty and the organizations they support.

Due to other “challenges” it’s been a couple of years since either one of us has been down to Haiti.    A lot has changed in that time, with us and with Haiti.    But a lot hasn’t.

Haiti is still part of our family.   40% of our children came from Haiti.   We have many friends and our kids have birth family who live there.

Our hearts still break over the poverty, the sickness, the corruption, the trauma, the lack of proper health care, the lack of education.   It’s hard seeing people you care about and a country you care about suffer and struggle.

But it’s not like all of the world’s problems are limited to a place like Haiti.   They aren’t.

There are struggles right here in the first world too.   My neighbor is at her father’s bedside as he battles what appears to be the final stages of lung disease.

My daughter’s classmate went to her 45 year old uncle’s funeral yesterday.

A friend is trying to find mental health services for her child and herself as they struggle – and before someone gets seriously hurt.

I could go on and on and on.

This weekend, and even yesterday, I spent a good bit of time wrestling with a one word question:’

“Why?”

Probably not “why?” in the way you’re thinking.    Not “why does God allow these bad things to happen.”

No, I was wrestling with the question of “Why?” as in “Why me?”   “Why my wife?”

Why did God push me out of banking (a relatively comfortable job) into working for an orphanage – and then out of that and into helping struggling adoptive families through AFSN?

Why did God give my wife the skills that are so desperately needed at medical clinics in Haiti?

Why do I care so much about kids I’ve never met?

Why do I want to help others – even when facing my and my family’s own struggles?  (If you think we’ve got it all together, then you don’t know us very well.)

Why didn’t God push me into a place where I could do a nice “ordinary” job and could not face these types of pains, heartaches and struggles?

But then two things happened in the last 48 hours that have “sort of” answered that question:

We attended the Tenebrae service at Calvin College Sunday night.   In it, we were able to experience, movingly, emotionally and physically the pain and brokenness that is part of this week and is part of what God has taken care through Good Friday and through Easter.   We learned again that God accepts us and chases us when we are broken with his love and his mercy.

And I listened to “Broken” by Casting Crowns again.   And again.   The part that kept hitting me over and over was:

Maybe you and I were never meant to be complete
Could we just be broken together
If you can bring your shattered dreams and Ill bring mine
Could healing still be spoken and save us
The only way we’ll last forever is broken together

God hasn’t called us to be “perfect.”   He hasn’t called us to be “all together.”    God is totally fine with us coming to him broken.

Broken by pain.

Broken by illness.

Broken by an ache in our hearts for those who hurt.

Broken by a sense of injustice.

Broken by a desire to make His world a better place.

Broken by our own sins and struggles and heartache.

We don’t have to fix it all, we can’t fix it all, only God can.

But we can be broken together.

And if we’re broken together, healing can begin.

And that’s what makes Jesus smile.

TJV

“Unbreak” the Broken

Kids in foster care.    Time and time again.

Parents struggling to provide help for their wounded children.

Malnutrition.

Disease that is easily treatable in the first world and fatal in the third world.

Unreliable or unavailable medical care.

Corruption.

Systems that are supposed to help but don’t.

Safety nets with big holes in them.

Parents with big hearts.   With broken hearts.

A failure to understand.

Drugs.

Alcohol during pregnancy = Fetal Alcohol Syndrome = a lifetime of problems.

Domestic violence.

Early Childhood Trauma

Reactive Attachment Disorder

Complexities beyond complexities.

Voodoo and cultural challenges that fly in the face of actual medical science.

A refusal to be open about mental and emotional illness.

It’s broken.

It’s all broken.

How do we “unbreak” the broken?   A couple of thoughts……

No one can do it alone.   There are too many areas where there is brokenness for one person, one organization to do it alone.

But everyone can do something.

I know a lady who is walking with the teenage moms in her community helping them feel loved, feel supported and make strong choices for them and their babies.

I know a lady who has devoted her life to helping malnourished children in Haiti.

I know a couple who gave up everything and moved to Africa for probably the roughest two years of their lives – because of the kids who needed help.

I know a guy who teaches in an inner city school – because the children there need a male role model.

I know a banker who left banking to spend his life working on behalf of children from hard places.

I know many other people who are committed to making a difference.

They are committed to helping unbreak the broken.

It’s a huge job – but if everyone can pick an area of “the broken” and work and struggle and pray about that, then together we can make a difference.

I see too many children and families who are hurt because of “the broken.”

I see too many systems and bureaucracies that get in the way and hurt “the broken.”

But they But we can’t do it without your help.   Without your willingness to:

  • Pray – pray that God will bless the efforts to “unbreak the broken.”
  • Support – find a cause or an effort that you can support and get behind it.    Support it with your time, support it with your efforts, support it with your social media – help spread the word.
  • Think big.   Think big enough to not only make a difference for that one or a little of this problem – but instead think big enough to say,  “How can we get rid of that problem?”    “How can we solve that problem for 500 people not just for 5?
  • Think God sized – if you’re thinking that what you’re going to do is something that you can do, then you aren’t thinking big enough.   Noah built a boat that made absolutely no sense.   Moses led the Israelis out of Egypt with a speech problem.    God can use normal everyday ordinary people to make a difference.

There’s no denying it.   There’s a lot of brokenness in the world.

I’m not satisfied with accepting that – and I hope you aren’t either.

Tom

 

 

Sleeping–Jesus Style

Ann Voskamp had a guest post on her blog – you can read the entire thing here…….

There was one sentence that hit me like a ton of bricks…..

I want to know the secret to sleeping in the boat.

You know the story, right?

Jesus and his disciples are crossing the Sea of Galilee in a boat.   It’s late at night.   Jesus lays down and falls asleep.

And a storm comes up.

A really really big storm.

A “waves crashing over the boat” storm.

A “we used to fish for a living and we’re scared in this” storm.

A storm that totally freaked out the disciples – they thought they were going down.

And Jesus was sleeping.    Jesus didn’t have any worries that kept him awake.  

Jesus had the confidence that comes from knowing he was following his Father’s will.

Jesus slept through the storm.

I want to be able to sleep through the storm.

Not an oblivious, I didn’t even hear it kind of sleep.

The kind of sleep that comes from knowing that God’s got this.

Whatever “this” is.

However “this” turns out.

God’s got it.    And so I can rest in His calm even when the storms rage.

I want to learn how to sleep through the storm – like Jesus did.

It’s just one of many things I want to do like Jesus does……

TJV

Words

A mixed up jumble of good, bad, easy, hard, pain and grace…….

 

Words

Expectations and Realities

A really good reminder that true healing takes place best when expectations and realities mesh together…..

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