May 12, 2010

A New Heart

Then you will know that I am the LORD. Those who hope in me will not be disappointed. ~Isaiah 49:23

Last week I had the incredible gift of being in El Salvador with Compassion International ( How do I describe it in black and white?

Brilliant, life changing, grace-filled, abundant joy…that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Amazing, huh? But if I’m honest, I was hesitant of going. Because going across the world meant going to a place in my heart I feared. A place a dream was buried. A dream I was afraid to re-awaken for the amount of grief it would cause should it die again. When this dream is surrendered to the Lord, it ruthlessly, tenderly breaks me in a thousand ways. Good ways. But it’s not been surrendered. It’s been locked up and covered with the dust and debris of hurt, mistrust and disappointment.

Disappointment not in the dream. Rather, in the dream Giver. The Giver of all things…life, faith, trust, desire, dreams. I know this is Truth. I really do. But my reality had shifted from this Truth to a lie in which the Giver was the Taunter…dangling the proverbial carrot, always in sight; always out of reach.

He’d been trying to talk with me about this for some time. But you know, home and life are superb sound barriers. I didn’t want to hear about it anymore and retorted, “If this dream isn’t going to come true by yesterday, don’t mention it again.” And as the day to leave for El Salvador drew closer, I quietly, but desperately buried deeper the place my heart dreaded. Disdained. Hated even. I admit I wasn’t fond of who I’d become in this part of my heart. It was ugly. Seriously filthy. But I was so angry/resentful, I held onto it.

The first night in El Salvador we broke off in groups. Our leader Ryan asked each to share how we could be praying for one another throughout the week.

It was then I heard the knock. My bygone dream rapping on the door of it’s cavity in my heart. “Let me out. Talk about me. Be accountable.” And so I did. And I cried. Blah. I didn’t want to, but dead dreams have that effect on me. Plus, I didn't want the trip to be about me. Pride and humility wrestled it out.

And through tears, I told of my love for missions, particularly foreign missions. And the grand temptation to turn my heart off…detach…withdraw, from loving the one in front of me well. Because I was given that dream when I was just a little girl and I carefully tended it for two decades. I was convinced it had been shut down and I had been deceived.

It’s scary to trust again. To open your heart once more. To greet the edge of a dark cliff and risk jumping takes quite a measure of faith. The possibility that maybe {holding breath here} maybe… the dream isn’t really dead, perhaps it’s just on hiatus… hibernating… germinating… cultivating…well, sometimes that feels like too much to bear. Is a twist on the old adage true? “It’s better to have dreamt and lost, than never to have dreamt at all.” I’m beginning to believe so.

Reality and Truth held my hand in El Salvador and gently eased me away from the lies, hurt, mistrust. How? Being with team members who wholly loved. Dared to fellowship with the severe ache of poverty. Embraced the pain and ministered through shared tears. Lingered in the presence of God a little longer. Being with El Salvadorian children who laid their tiny hands on my head in prayer. Radiated joy though they know more pain in their 6 years than I will ever know in 86 years. Proclaimed the goodness of our God with no reserve.

An open heart gives way to open ears. So many threw me a lifeline of life-giving affirming words without even knowing about my dreams. I catch myself still holding my breath at times. I’m still jumping gingerly. But last week a miracle happened that I can’t ignore. A dead dream came back to life; and hope was resurrected. And every day there and since, the Holy Spirit has gently tapped me on the shoulder and now I’m listening. He reminds me that yes, indeed, He is the Giver of all things. Life, faith, trust, desires, dreams. And Truth. For this I am grateful.

~Does this resonate with you too? I'd love to dialogue.

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. ~Ezekiel 36

May 10, 2010


This morning I thought about the Good Samaritan. Do you know what I respect about that guy? He faded into the background. He didn’t hang around for kudos or praise. Taking care of the needs of the man was more important. And that’s what the amazing team at Compassion International does. It’s not about them. It’s about releasing children from poverty in Jesus’ Name. I stole that line from them. But it’s right and true. I saw the testimony of it. I held the hands of it. I walked the streets of it. I felt the weight and love of it.

A group of us spent last week in El Salvador. I promise I won’t write and post pics like one of those infomercials. You know the ones I’m talking about. My friend Brian spoke of ‘gratuitous poverty’ and that phrase stuck with me. I’m not here to barter one child’s story for your guilt. Instead, I want to share so maybe, just maybe, through a glimpse of a life, together we’ll trust the magnitude our choices can make in one life, one family, one community, one generation, one country.

Because one life surely changed mine. And the thought of him had me weeping yesterday. All day. So other drivers wouldn’t think I was nuts, at one point I turned the bass in my car up to drown the sounds of gulping tears. But I wish I hadn’t. I wish I’d cried louder so even one person had rolled down their window and asked me what was wrong. Instead of my sobs, I wish I would have shared with them about my trip last week.

That truly, one person can change a life. I know. I met Nixon.

He has a 100 watt smile. Is full of vibrant life. And so handsome in his perfectly pressed suit. A suit he irons in stifling 95 degrees. His care to honor us with this detail makes me cry.

Nixon. His mom sews the loveliest embroidered pillow cases. His sister playfully teases him. These three truly adore and support each other. Their genuine love makes me cry.

Nixon. Dreams of graduating from university. And starting his own company. To provide for his mom. She has gone hungry so her children would not. She has had to turn to a last resort to provide for food. A resort no child wants his mother to have to go to. That no mother wants to turn to. $3 a day buys food for half a week. Please pause and soak that in. His and her sacrifices make me cry.

Nixon. He and his family set a table fit for a king and honored us strangers there. And welcomed us in his home of bamboo and clay. Prayed for us out of a wealth of relationship with our God. Their humbleness makes me cry.

Nixon. Abandoned by his father. Tempted by gangs. Seduced by drugs. Surrounded by poverty. His hard and difficult background makes me cry.

Nixon. Captured by the Lord. Leads worships with fervor and joy. Preaches the Word with diligence. Forgives with abandon. His humility and passion makes me cry.

His life was changed by one sponsor. His life is now changing the lives of his mom and sister. His cousins. The 300 children in his program. His church members. His neighbors.


Y’all, my words aren’t very fluid today. There is so much I’d love to convey. But what I can say is this. It’s true. One person can change a life.

Makes me wonder what ever happened to the man the Good Samaritan rescued…