In 2010 I spent ten days in Rwanda. Our team helped build a classroom and start up a medical clinic for a non-profit in Western Rwanda. On the last day of the trip we visited the Rwanda Genocide Museum. It is a haunting, awful, beautiful place. The atrocities of 1 million people killed in 90 days are told in photo and story. We all felt sick. While we were in country we spoke with people who had survived. People who had forgiven. People who had found peace. As we flew home I wondered if Rwanda would continue to rebuild. This beautiful country has proven to me that hope is possible in the darkest of circumstances.
Jonathan Tepperman has written a thoughtful, engaging book called The Fix, how nations survive and Thrive in a World in Decline. His chapter on Rwanda mirrored the truth I saw in country. The Rwandese are recovering because they embraced a radical idea - forgiveness.
Tepperman's book profiles ten staggering success stories. Times when the good guys won, when corruption was conquered, when poverty was rolled back. It's a hopeful and encouraging read. The truth is that crisis and heartache and despair seem rampant. I appreciated Tepperman's timely reminder that love and justice and fairness really are mighty tools.
I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review. I'll be giving it away tomorrow to a Quirk-Email reader. If you haven't yet, subscribe HERE to enter to win.
You can find out more about Jonathan Tepperman HERE.
“Mirror, Mirror, on the back of the door. Who is this trouble maker that I bore?”
My son brings me great joy. He is funny and bright. He gives great hugs and loves to snuggle and read. He has the best belly laugh. But he can meltdown like the best (or worst) of them. The three year old has already figured out his mommy’s buttons and likes to push them. He is learning right from wrong and sometimes the hard way.
A year and a half ago we purchased a new to us 30 year old home. We fell in love with the location, the big back yard and the beautiful countertops in the kitchen. The floor plan was great and I liked the big mirror the original owner had put on the back of one of the bedroom doors. The rest of the house could be cleaned, painted and upgraded one project at a time.
When I was a kid we did a play at church called Colby’s Clubhouse. The one and only song I remember from the play went something like this… “Kids under construction, maybe the paint is still wet. Kids under construction, the Lord might not be finished yet.” This song routinely pops into my head when I’m walking through my house and see a maroon carpet I can’t wait to tear out, loose electrical outlets and sliding door pulls that need replaced.
This house reminds me to be patient with myself and my husband, son, friends and neighbors. We are all a work in progress.
Renovations take time.
Philippians 1:6 tells us, “Being confident of this very thing He who began a good work in you will complete it until the day of Christ Jesus.”
God had outstanding blue prints when he created us.
In Jeremiah 1:5 God said, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart.”
But then sin entered the scene and those perfect plans were altered. Thankfully, God doesn’t want to leave us to rot and decay in this condition. He’s ready to roll up His sleeves and restore one area of our hearts at a time, much like we are working on one home improvement project at time.
Remember that darling three year old that is testing the limits and that beautiful mirror on the back of his bedroom door? One of his favorite past times is making funny faces in that mirror and watching light bounce around the room when he shines a flashlight into it. There was a passionate fit played out recently and in the process his head came in contact with the door. Thankfully the mirror cracked and not my child’s head. My son was physically unharmed. But oh, his willful spirit was broken in that moment. He instantly stopped his tantrum and threw his arms around me and let me hold him. When he dried his eyes he pointed at the mirror and said, “Mama, I broke my mirror. I’m so sorry. Daddy will fix it, right?” I bore a son who sins, but I’m so thankful his first response was repentance. I pray my heart will always respond the same.
“Oh sweet boy,” I said, “I forgive you. Daddy will forgive you. We love you.” Then we prayed.
And I told my son that Jesus forgave him.
I told him a paraphrased version of the following verse; 1 John 1:9, “God is faithful and reliable. If we confess our sins, he forgives them and cleanses us from everything we have done wrong.”
I really liked that mirror. I’m sad to see it go. But I wouldn’t trade that moment with my son for a million mirrors. People are more important than things. Jesus told us to store up treasures in heaven. My child’s soul is way more important than a mirror.
His Daddy took the shattered mirror down this weekend. We cleaned the door and filled the holes. The door will get a fresh coat of paint someday…we’ll add it to the project list. He hung a new mirror in a safer place in our bedroom today. My son has a new place to make silly faces with his father. Much like his Heavenly Father, his Daddy loves that boy and wants to give him a do-over.
“Mirror, Mirror, no longer on the back of the door. Who is this child that I bore?”
He is greatly loved. He is forgiven. He is a work in progress just like me.
We have painted nearly every room, replaced door knobs, curtain rods, patched a few holes and replaced broken items on our kitchen appliances, scoured this house and thrown out items the previous owner left behind. Similarly, God took my hardened, hate filled heart and replaced it with his overwhelming love and joy. He has repaired my broken heart and He has helped me rip out destructive thoughts and behaviors. Much like our “to do list” for this house goes on, God is still working on me.
Thankfully, God is not only in the creation business, He is in the repairing and replacing business too. He wants nothing more than to restore and improve His relationship with you. What does He want to do in you? Say a prayer and let the renovating commence! Christ wants to make your heart his home—and He loves us fixer-uppers.
Sitting in the Christmas Eve service yesterday my heart reached its full capacity. My eldest was a candle lighter. As she walked down the aisle I had visions of a future walk down a similar aisle and my breath caught. My youngest fell asleep on my lap a still chubby finger wrapped around mine. Tears welled up. When the quartet powered through a gorgeous rendition of O Holy Night the tears gave way.
Joy and sorrow and bittersweet and laughter. And gratitude. Great heaps of gratefulness. Through the hard days I know Jesus came to carry. And the silly fun Santa and candy and cinnamon and nutmeg mix to make memories I'm writing on my heart.
Merry Christmas. Love and blessings.
I think I might be more excited for Christmas this year than my children.
Check out this beautiful picture my cousin and aunt put together. Oh how true!!
My friend gave me this mug.
I may have to use it every day.
Ha! AND hahahahaha! And LOL. And other random snorting. Well done my friend.
Don't forget today in the midst of your list and parking lot maneuvers and cooking projects to laugh. And cheer. Hug. Pray.
Two more sleeps.
A friend of mine. (“Cough, cough. Mindy. Cough, clear throat”) brought to my attention some time ago about her friend Grace. She was always talking how much she loved her friend, Grace. “Grace this. Grace that. Grace. Grace. Grace…” It took time for me to fully understand her friend, Grace. You can’t tell a book by it’s cover would definitely apply here.
I agree that Grace was nice and very sweet, yet to me seemed she seemed like a bit of a pushover. When I felt there should be justice done in a situation, she forgave and let go. I mean… really?’
Then one day I welcomed ‘Brother Bitterness’ and ‘Sister Shoot’em-Between-the Eyes’ into my home.’ Brother Bitterness’ always had this uncanny way of making me feel very satisfied and vindicated. I must admit the quick quips of ‘Sister Shoot’em-Between-the Eyes’ were so clever and very funny. She made me laugh! They had a way of making me feel protected and justified.
However, I did notice, the longer they stayed in my home the more they wore out their welcome. My home got messier and more chaotic and never felt peaceful anymore. I began to discover that not only was I getting hurt by them, but so were loved ones that were the closest to me. It took a lot of work, but eventually I implored to my’ Landlord’ to evict them and to send them on their merry way.
I started having Grace over more often and found that she was a lot stronger than I realized. She could wait endless amounts of time for people and situations to change. That took way more inner strength than I ever thought, but the fruits of her patience gave her much more peace and satisfaction than ‘Brother Bitterness’ and ‘Sister Shoot’em Between-the-Eyes’ ever did for me. I began to realize that her patience allowed time for truth to eventually be revealed resulting in a more complete and efficient end result.
My home is less chaotic and more peaceful since I started to get to know Grace more. I find my mind is more at peace as well. I now see that the self-satisfaction I felt from ‘Brother Bitterness’ and ‘Sister Shoot’em-Between-the-Eyes was really empty and false. Deep down it only grew a root of guilt and self-disdain.
As with any friendship I know I will need to continue to get to know Grace better. I still have ‘Brother Bitterness’ and ‘Sister Shoot’em Between-the-Eyes try to get their foot into my front door. Persistent little things, they are. They even try to change their approach and appearance almost fooling me into letting them in. Sometimes I have fallen prey to their wiles.
The more I become familiar with Grace’s voice and let her be the center of conversation, the more she has this miraculous way of drowning out the voices of the other two. I am so glad our paths crossed and so thankful for how patiently she has waited for me to finally welcome her friendship.
“In the war between Guilt and Grace, Grace wins every time!” (Matthew West “Grace Wins”)
One more week until Christmas. Two more weeks of the year. I'm pausing here for a few quiet minutes before I attack my lists.
This past week our city stopped for an inch of snow. We will be going to school still in July. Pretty sky though. And the giggles and frosted noses will be remembered when my kids are grown.
French basalmic pear and cheese pasta. Yum.
I did other things this week; read contracts, paid bills, dealt with angry people and tired people. I hurt for those in Allepo and Mosul and watched a video about rescuing children caught in trafficking which honestly made me ill. I slogged though a couple days of a melancholy mood. Do you do this? I end up feeling ungrateful which winds the mood tighter.
I read my Bible. Typically a good choice when I'm stuck. I should do it sooner. This verse got me.
"I will fill the soul of the priests with abundance, And My people will be satisfied with My goodness," declares the LORD.”
Oh my yes. Fill my soul. My schedule and my stomach and my want list won't do it. My questions only find room when He fills my soul. The goodness of the Lord is what the celebration is about.
My heart floods with the the beauty of the snow and the bounty of the blessings and the ability to make a difference in the wrongs around. Come on my wandering soul- center on the rock. He is faithful and I am satisfied.
I spent my break at work today on the phone with my mother. We are both sickened by the photos and stories coming out of Aleppo. Truly a hideous contrast to the joy of Christmas. Mom and I were searching for a way to help. Moments later I received an email from World Vision with a plea for help. Seemed timely. If you too are moved to help, consider this organization. I love the statement form their president.
“As we go about our holiday preparations, the families and children of Aleppo are literally being massacred,” says Rich Stearns, World Vision U.S. president. “We must never lose our capacity to feel outrage when human beings are so callously slaughtered, and then we must turn that outrage into action. Pray, give, and raise your voices in support of these Syrian families.”
You can read about their program and donate HERE.
I love Jesus. I think my two daughters can change the world. I think you can too.
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