On Fire for All Things Christ

Archive for March, 2011

Serenity in Sendai

Below is a message a friend sent me today. It is an email from Anne who lives in Sendai, Japan – one of the hardest hit areas from the earthquake and tsunami last week. Not that I wish devastation upon myself or anyone, but I almost feel like sometimes, God needs to shake us in order for us to give the very reverence He demands.

I enjoyed reading Anne’s letter as she humbly describes the gratitude and serenity in her heart. A gratefulness of back to the basics: caring for others, sharing essentials, and worship to God.

Email from Anne in Sendai, Japan

Hello My Lovely Family and Friends,

Things here in Sendai have been rather surreal. But I am very blessed to have wonderful friends who are helping me a lot. Since my shack is even more worthy of that name, I am now staying at a friend’s home. We share supplies like water, food and a kerosene heater. We sleep lined up in one room, eat by candlelight, share stories. It is warm, friendly, and beautiful.

During the day, we help each other clean up the mess in our homes. People sit in their cars, looking at news on their navigation screens, or line up to get drinking water when a source is open. If someone has water running in their home, they put out a sign so people can come to fill up their jugs and buckets.

Utterly amazingly where I am there has been no looting, no pushing in lines. People leave their front door open, as it is safer when an earthquake strikes. People keep saying, “Oh, this is how it used to be in the old days when everyone helped one another.”

Quakes keep coming. Last night they struck about every 15 minutes. Sirens are constant and helicopters pass overhead often. We got water for a few hours in our homes last night, and now it is for half a day. Electricity came on this afternoon. Gas has not yet come on. But all of this is by area. Some people have these things, others do not. No one has washed for several days. We feel grubby, but there are so much more important concerns than that for us now. I love this peeling away of non-essentials. Living fully on the level of instinct, of intuition, of caring, of what is needed for survival, not just of me, but of the entire group.

There are strange parallel universes happening. Houses a mess in some places, yet then a house with futons or laundry out drying in the sun. People lining up for water and food, and yet a few people out walking their dogs. All happening at the same time.

Other unexpected touches of beauty are first, the silence at night. No cars. No one out on the streets. And the heavens at night are scattered with stars. I usually can see about two, but now the whole sky is filled. The mountains are Sendai are solid and with the crisp air we can see them silhouetted against the sky magnificently.

And the Japanese themselves are so wonderful. I come back to my shack to check on it each day, now to send this e-mail since the electricity is on, and I find food and water left in my entrance way. I have no idea from whom, but it is there. Old men in green hats go from door to door checking to see if everyone is OK. People talk to complete strangers asking if they need help. I see no signs of fear. Resignation, yes, but fear or panic, no. They tell us we can expect aftershocks, and even other major quakes, for another month or more. And we are getting constant tremors, rolls, shaking, rumbling. I am blessed in that I live in a part of Sendai that is a bit elevated, a bit more solid than other parts. So far this area is better off than others. Last night my friend’s husband came in from the country, bringing food and water. Blessed again.

Somehow at this time I realize from direct experience that there is indeed an enormous cosmic evolutionary step that is occurring all over the world right at this moment. And somehow as I experience the events happening now in Japan, I can feel my heart opening very wide. My brother asked me if I felt so small because of all that is happening. I don’t. Rather, I feel as part of something happening that is much larger than myself. This wave of birthing (worldwide) is hard, and yet magnificent.

Thank you again for your care and love of me,
With love in return to you all,

Outside My Own Little World: Signs of the Times

(Poster by Pentagram in Austin)

Here is a poster that I came across in looking through a design book. When I read the info at the bottom that said “mobile loaves and fish,” I thought – I love it! I’d like to share this! I remember when God opened my eyes to help the homeless. Since then, I’ve participated in homeless outreach events with several organizations and I’ve also had the opportunity to do some individual outreach of my own. Just a little bit of help for the big glory of God.

Follow these posts if you’d like to read more: Go Fish, Gone Fishing

Outside My Own Little World: Pray for Japan

(Poster by Sofian Bouziani)

If you’d like to help relief efforts in Japan, please make a donation here.

And, if you’d like to join me in prayer for Japan, pray this with me…
Our gracious Father, we ask that You may reach down and help the people effected by the devastation of Japan this past weekend. We know that Your heart is with each person in their suffering – some, physically hurting and most in emotional despair. Bring comport Lord, and may Your glory be known. We also pray to edify the missionaries who are proclaiming Your Good News to the hearts of Japan. Give them added strength and perseverance in this time as they faithfully continue to be your hands and feet. Jesus, please let provision come and may it be multiplied. In Jesus’ Holy and precious name, Amen.

May God lead you to help Japan through prayer, giving or serving.

If you like this poster, these links below have similar posters:

Outside My Own Little World

I heard this song a few days ago and I really liked it. It’s not a deeply spiritually engaging song, but I love the internal transformation that the lyrics speak of and the song’s upbeat melody. As God transforms us to see how He sees, our hearts are also transformed to fulfill a greater purpose and to reach. And, given this current time of much rebellion, revolution and tragedy striking, how can we not think outside our own little world to fulfill His great purpose?

Matthew West: My Own Little World

In my own little world it hardly ever rains
I’ve never gone hungry, always felt safe
I got some money in my pocket, shoes on my feet
In my own little world
Population: me

I try to stay awake during Sunday morning church
I throw a twenty in the plate, but I never give ’til it hurts
And I turn off the news when I don’t like what I see
Yeah, it’s easy to do when it’s
Population: me

What if there’s a bigger picture?
What if I’m missing out?
What if there’s a greater purpose
I could be living right now
Outside my own little world, oooh

Stopped at a red light, looked out my window
I saw a cardboard sign, said “Help this homeless widow.”
And just above that sign was the face of a human
I thought to myself, “God, what have I been doing?”

So I rolled down the window and I looked her in the eye
Oh, how many times have I just passed her by?
I gave her some money then I drove on through
And my own little world reached
Population: two, oooh

What if there’s a bigger picture?
What if I’m missing out?
What if there’s a greater purpose
I should be living right now
Outside my own little world, oooh
My own little world, oooh

Father break my heart for what breaks Yours
Give me open hands and open doors
and put Your Light in my eyes and let me see
That my own little world is not about me

What if there’s a bigger picture?
What if I’m missing out?
What if there’s a greater purpose
That I could be living right now
I don’t wanna miss what matters
I wanna be reaching out
Show me the greater purpose
So I can start living right now
Outside my own little world, oooh
My own little world, yeah
My own little world, oooh

Inspired Environments

The Memorial Wall in the Sanctuary Courtyard
Today I decided to treat myself to something different, so I went to First Presbyterian Church (by the Fine Arts Museum) to check out the scripture wall in their Sanctuary Courtyard. It’s always nice to see Scripture in an environmental space for all to read and enjoy. Although, if you’d like to go to this courtyard, it can only be accessed through the building.

Living Water
At Town and Country Village in west Houston, I surprisingly passed by a fountain, that read “Living Water.” The letter t in the word water, was taller than all the other letters, so it looked like a very intentional cross. I loved the symbolism. And, I loved more that this was in a completely secular environment!

Treasured Necklaces

(photo from DaySpring)

God’s Heart for You Necklace
A little over two years ago, I received a gift from a friend that I loved very much.  I wasn’t expecting a gift, it was such a joyful surpris. I opened it with delight. It was a silver necklace with a 4-sided vertical pendant. On each side was carved a word: cherished, created, celebrated, chosen. It was beautiful. I put it on and wore it almost everyday, all the time.

For a while, it was the necklace that consistently brought me surprises. The first surprise was when I first noticed the small charm next to the clasp. On it was engraved: Psalm 139:14. Beautiful! Then later, I discovered the carving on the fifth side, (the bottom of the pendant). There, a small heart caught my eye – another delightful surprise! Then (this may sound really silly), the strength of the necklace surprised me. One day, as I was showering, my bath sponge got tangled on the chain. I thought, I’ll break the chain for sure if I try to tug it off, but the chain held up and did not break. The necklace was indeed wonderfully made. Strong, and beautiful, just as we are. Even the way the necklace was put together, the pendant could never fall and be lost when taken off. The necklace even came with a folded note with scripture. I loved everything about that necklace. I wore it almost everyday. The necklace was very dear to my heart.

The Love Necklace
Fast forward about a year. I was looking around at a store, and I came across a beautiful necklace. I wasn’t in search for a necklace, and rarely do things catch my eye to the point of making an impulse buy, but this one stood out – a pendant with the word “love” written in script letters. It didn’t read sideways like you would expect, it read downward. As a designer, I appreciated the lettering and its simplicity. I fell in love with it at first sight, so I bought it and hung it on my hand-towel rack in my bathroom counter. Looking at it there, I got somewhat of a chill that this necklace would soon replace my current pendant. I didn’t like that thought. Why would I think that, I didn’t know. So, I treasured the thought and left it alone.

A few months after that, the friend who had given me the God’s Heart necklace abandoned and betrayed me. Much anger, bitterness and hate overtook my thoughts and in that battling midst, I trashed everything from him, including the necklace. I thought about what the Lord had revealed to me just a month earlier – that the love pendant will replace the one from my friend. God had started preparing me for this new season long before I knew. The pain surrounding the betrayal still hurts to think about and that necklace is one of the things that still stands out in my head from that lost relationship. Almost a year later, I still treasure it, but now only in memory.

Now, fast forward to present time. I have been ministering to a friend about her heartache surrounding a recent broken relationship. Then one day, I had the thought of getting my friend a “love” necklace just like mine. Would I still find one like it at the store, it had been nearly a year since I had bought mine. I thought, if I see one, then I’ll know that God’s hand is at work. So, I set out for it, and there it was – plain as day on the jewelry rack. I made the purchase, and later that day, I gifted it to my friend. She said it was perfect. That Daddy had been speaking to her about love. Tears filled her eyes as she clasped the necklace on during our dinner.

The Flourish Necklace
A few weeks after that, I decided to sort of retire my love necklace. I hung it against the shade of my lamp by my bed. It looked nice there. Somewhat silhouetted against the light. I thought, at the right time, the Lord will bring me a new necklace to treasure. So, I couldn’t help but tear up when just a few days later, another dear friend gifted me with a new necklace. It is a pendant she made for me at a jewelry class. This pendant is oval with an emboss of a flower and ornamental flourish elements around it.

In some ways, I see the pendant as God taking me into a new season of blossoming like a flower. Like a flower, within each of us, the love of God grows and blossoms, it first develops internally, then outwardly for others. Love is like the many layers of petals, slowly opening more to reveal the intricacies in our hearts.

Thank you my dear Ann for my new pendant. That I may flourish and share the layers of God’s love with others.
In Christ’s love always and forever,

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