Thursday, November 6, 2008

my eyes and my heart...

...have been opened to the suffering of people world-wide. May I never turn a blind eye or harden my heart against their pain. I pray that God will give me more opportunities to be His hands and feet to those who need Him most.

Tonight I watched yet another documentary that seared my soul. Angels in the Dust is about Marion Clorete, a woman who left her Johannesburg suburb, along with her husband and two adult daughters, to establish a village and school for South Africa's orphans.

My heart is trying to reconcile all that I learned. I'm feeling horribly conflicted. I feel grief over the tragedies and trauma that were shared. And, at the same time, my heart is full of hope and joy because of the amazing work that Marion's family is doing in South Africa. They are heroic people who walked away from comfortable lifestyles to give their time, money and hearts to children and families who not only suffering, but dying.

I heard a beautiful little girl named Lillian tell a horrific story about a man who came into her home and stole her innocence. Her mother denied the horror she endured and refused to have her tested for HIV. The woman threatened to poison Lillian along with her other children and herself if Marion brought up the r**e again. She said that she was a 'bad mother' and did not deserve to have children. Later on, Lillian wished her mother well and stated that she knew her mother loved her.

(As a note, I am carefully choosing and/or changing my words in hopes of confusing search engines. I do not desire to draw the wrong kind of attention to my blog.)

I saw a young woman use her Christmas money to help a friend purchase a coffin in order to bury her husband. The man had died a month earlier and his widow was unable to pay the bill for the mortuary. They were charging her an hourly rate to keep his body refrigerated. The woman did not have the money to pay the bill and her own personal mourning beliefs restricted her from going on with her life until her husband received a proper burial.

I watched a teenage girl smile shyly when one of her friends gave her a yo-yo. It was the first gift she had ever been given. Her own family had never given her gifts as a young girl, and yet they did allow her body to be used by her uncles. They also refused to allow her to attend school despite her desperate pleas. The sweet girl was unable to speak of the horrors she had endured; and yet, a simple yo-yo brought a bright smile to her solemn face.

One man shared that there are over 100 funerals every weekend. My brain desperately wants to make that a small number, and yet, I know better. One hundred.

I learned about a myth that is costing hundreds of thousands of lives. It is believed in Africa (and perhaps elsewhere), that if a person with HIV sleeps w/ a vir*in, their disease will cured.

I watched as Marion provided grief counseling for a group of precious children who were feeling "cross" because their parents had died, because they themselves were ill or because they had been victimized. She taught them to scream into their pillows and use their words to express their pain to their friends.

Marion's honorable goal is to stop the vicious cycle of victim2persecutor. She understands that those who have been oppressed will most likely become oppressors, unless the cycle is broken.

And this is just part of the story.

I'm in awe. My heart aches. There is so much that I'm unable to process. Just as I was the other night after watching A Walk To Beautiful, I am forever changed. I'm humbled by others who give of themselves so fully and so unselfishly. I'm humbled by the stories of loss, pain and suffering that go so far beyond what I would consider as trauma in my own life. The atrocities that others have and continue to suffer daily overwhelm me.

And yet, I still have hope. I believe the cycle will be broken. I believe the life will have victory over death. But, most importantly, I believe the words my Savior spoke on a mountainside:

"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you." (Matthew 5:1-12, NIV)

The film ended with a precious scene of Marion Cloete surrounded by a group of children. Despite the wounds they are carrying in their spirits, and the sickness within their bodies, they were laughing, running and singing.

Marion's words resonated deep within my spirit, "They are our children. They are mine. They are yours. They belong to all of us. We are all going to have to come together as men and women and say 'We are their parents.'" Amen.

Lord, may you send more and more angels to those who are lying in the dust. May they minister to Your children in need, sharing Your love, Your grace and Your mercy. May Your children rise from the dust and boldly say that they too are LIVING A BLESSED LIFE!


I started working on my first Priscilla Shirer Bible study called He Speaks To Me. It's really a good study. Today I was reading about pride. Priscilla wrote that she felt almost all relationship struggles are rooted in pride. The pride in me immediately wanted to disagree with that comment, (grin), which told me that perhaps there was something there that God wanted me to look at.

You see, the past few months have been a definite struggle between my ten-year-old daughter an myself. Granted there are hormones that are getting triggered for both of us, so that makes things even more sticky. However, I realized after finishing the chapter today, that if I really find it a challenge NOT to argue with a child, that perhaps there's something more than hormones going on!

Ouch. Really, I know that Chels and I are entering into a new season in our relationship and that change can be both good and hard. That said, I've really been struggling with letting her simply speak her mind and share her heart without getting caught up in her emotions. I find myself easily reverting back to a ten-year-old (or younger!) myself, and that's just not good.

So, the prickly "p-word" popped up and had my full attention.

"Lord? Is it pride that I'm struggling with? Because this person I turn into is not who I want to be. My heart wants to love my girl and be able to listen to her without getting frustrated and feel a need to correct her at every turn. Lord, whatever is getting triggered for me, please, please, PLEASE heal it so that I can move on in my relationship with Chelsea. Help me to be the adult in our relationship. Help me to honor her with my words, but especially with my attitude. Lord, please change me. I need you and I can't do this without you."

I love how gentle the Lord is when He corrects me. The light bulb of truth turns on and all of the confusion, guilt and frustration are quickly stripped away. Hope begins to blossom in my heart and I finally realize that all of my struggling was simply wasted time. He never expected or asked me to go it alone. And never did He leave me alone. But He did wait. Patiently. And thankfully, He allowed the temperature of the situation to rise so that He was able to attract my attention. When the Lord convicts, He also equips. His conviction is always founded upon His love for me and His desire to teach, heal and transform me.

So, in this new season of parenting, I'll be surrendering myself in a new way to the Gardener. I'm choosing to allow Him to uproot the nasty weeds of pride and bring a fresh harvest of peace, joy and patience. I can't wait to see what other surprises He has in mind for me.

What kind of season are you in? Is it a season of rest, trial, joy or strife? Whatever it is, know you are not alone in the process. Your Creator is right there with you and He will give you exactly what you need at just the right time.

Praying today that you are filled with His love and are LIVING A BLESSED LIFE!

By the way, you'll notice that my background is back! Turned out it wasn't a security issue in China after all (hee hee). Miss Emily needed to make room for all of those amazing pictures she took of her sweet little sisters and amazing family. Welcome home, Horners! And, thanks Emily for being so quick in repairing my blog! What a blessing you are!

Praying for increased humility,

Monday, November 3, 2008

can you spare 52 minutes?

I just finished watching a documentary entitled A Walk to Beautiful. It was shown on PBS this past March and is now available to view online with Netflix; or, you can buy a copy of the DVD.

I strongly urge you to find 52 spare minutes and watch the movie.

I promise that you will never be the same.

This is another movie that has left me speechless. All I can say is if you have not seen this documentary, you really MUST.

The above picture is a young woman named Wubete who stole my heart. I was so deeply impacted by the stories that were shared in such a simple yet powerful way. I was humbled in a way I have never experienced before. That in itself speaks volumes.

Please, please make the time. It's less than one hour. (That's three strong urgings, have I stressed my point enough yet?)

It is my hope and prayer that God will use me to help others joyfully say they are LIVING A BLESSED LIFE.

His humbled servant,