Living The Life That God Has For Us....

God's Plumbline Ministries is called to repair devastation in the lives of God's people allowing restoration both physically and spiritually. Providing creative solutions for employment, education and life skills allowing God to repair and restore hope.  Empowering each community to establish a secure foundation both inside and out, while keeping in tact God given talents and uniqueness, not focusing on man's ways but God's ways.  Developing working relationships within social and economic circles, working hand in hand with community leaders to bring the love and compassion of Jesus Christ. 

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Color Runs - More Thoughts on India

Huge loads of freshly cut sugar cane fill the side of the road. 
Some are being pulled by white Brahma bulls.
It is harvest season in India.
It is really a sight to see, these pink bulls feel like royalty walking around. 
The proud owners take them to the temple, sprinkle them with pink powdered dye making them holy, holding great value and honor.  
A headband made with fresh flowers make a ring on their forehead.
We throw this same powder in marathons and call them "color runs".
I wondered what other things we do not knowing it is part of Hindu culture.
My desire to capture these pink bulls in a photograph was met with humor that I was unaware of until the day we walked in the villages where I would learn to make kalamkari fabric. 
One of the pastors stopped in front of a fly infested hut filled with black bulls and said,
 "do you need a picture".
Funny, very funny! I did bust out laughing with them. 
- - - 
There is a park in the middle of town.  
It is closed during the day, chained and locked up tight.  
In the coolness of the night friends sit with friends, children play and dance in the rainmaker. 
Here you will find a different life, one freed from the oppressive heat of the day and the work it requires.  
There is a lightness in some of the people, others still carry their burden.
Others sit mindlessly watching the movie playing on the giant screen. 
Christians, not daring to look at such sin the Hindu world takes part of.  
As we walk, I am told repeatedly that this is sinful and bad, very bad.
I try to focus on the our conversation. 
I am thinking about Paul and the very things he didn't want to do he did.
It seems to be the perfect word picture. 
Tell everyone it's bad and see if they really won't look.
It seems I had found the garden of Eden – everyone making a choice between good and evil.
- - -
Rows of white taxi’s line the streets, it seems they could be from the time of Casablanca.
There are trucks named “Tata” that have nothing to do with breast cancer awareness.
It is a harvest season now, the trucks look more like Transformers from the movies with tiny faces peaking out from under the over flowing rice straw. 
Filling both sides of the road forcing you to pass on the shoulder, fighting for the leftover space with the field hands, goats, sheep, water buffalo, bikes and auto rickshaws. 
I hear my grandfathers voice playing over and over in my head – 
an inch is as good as a mile, an inch is as good as a mile.
When there is less than an inch, I bust out laughing. 
- - -
Shepard’s still tend their flocks, carrying the tiniest of lambs. 
Patiently they stand, waiting, keeping everyone in line, away from traffic.
Their crossing is priority.
You wait for them to pass.
- - -
Water buffalo seem set the pace for life, meaning themselves and the people. 
Crossing the road at will, never minding where they lay, sitting just in the line of traffic. 
Not to worry everyone will move.  
There is a rhythm to it all. 
Rules not understood by the visitor.
- - -
Tiny children walk about, there is no fear or doubt.
Each in a uniform carrying huge back packs that seem empty. 
It's odd.
They must be full of dreams I think to myself.
Dreams bigger than any life time could hold. 
They seem airy and light.
Or...was it airy and light because they are empty. 
Empty for so many of them as is the reality that lay before them.
I hold my breath and scold myself. 
These thoughts should never be spoken to a child with such hope.

Monday, December 24, 2012

A Merry Little Christmas!

We Wish You A Merry Christmas!
Aaron, Parker, Dan, Sheila, Alyssa and Madisen

Galatians 4:4-5
But when the set time had fully come, 
God sent his Son, 
born of a woman, 
born under the law,  
to redeem those under the law, 
that we might receive adoption to sonship.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Under Grace

"Every day I am getting to know people, at any rate their circumstances, 
and sometimes one is able to see through their stories into themselves – 
and at the same time one thing continues to impress me: 
here I meet people as they are, far from the masquerade of the "the Christian world", 
people with passions, criminal types, small people with small aims, small wages and small sins – 
all in all they are people who feel homeless in both senses, 
and who begin to thaw when on speaks to them kindness – real people; 
I can only say that I have gained the impression that it is just these people who are much more under grace than under wrath, and that is the Christian world which is more under wrath than grace."

 – Bonhoeffer, Barcelona

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

No Stick Bills - Thoughts on India

The contrasts here could fill eternity.

I see in pictures, but can’t get my bearing on directions.  I have driven the same roads for two weeks, looking, watching and seeing something new every day.  Everything here seems like a picture I can crop it in my mind finding the odd, the beautiful, the sad - each having a story. 

In big white letters painted free hand on the red building, in both English and Telugu, read “no stick bills”.  
For two days, I thought do they get that much food on their money that they are sticky?  
Finally, I asked Raju what does it mean? Was it about food? 
In his kind smile, holding back laughter he said, no, like sticky paper signs on the wall.  
Of course, "no stick bills"! 

In fields there are pyramids of bricks, built next to houses built by bad wolf just waiting for a huff and a puff. Poverty allows for you to make the bricks just not to buy them for yourself and family.

Water is still carried in pots just like the little girl in Jungle Book catching you off guarding while you search through your memory of the movie looking for clues that may help you understand the magic of this place.

An inch is most defiantly as good as a mile in all things India.  
There are no lines in the road guiding or directing traffic, just a few police officers dressed in khaki with whistles and white gloves at times.
Yet no one seems to be a free thinker in life areas.
It seems, thinking in life matters, should follow same rules for driving.
Keep going, don't second guess yourself.
Oh and one last note; when crossing the street, cross with a water buffalo, they won’t hit them, or you for that matter.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Turkey From Heaven (The Forgotten Thanksgiving Blog)

I can't remember who told me Haitians believe turkeys fall from the sky on Thanksgiving.
Maybe it was one of the sewing ladies.
Without fail I think of it every Thanksgiving.
Millions of eighteen pounders, frozen, free falling to earth.

There are no turkeys' falling from the sky, but on Facebook we take an entire month to post things we are thankful for, we even have books that encourage us to make lists of things we are thankful for. I am not one of those Facebook posting type people. I am not good at lists on paper. Admittedly, I have tons of mental lists.

I got up early on Thursday morning to put the turkey in the oven.
I was determined I was going back to bed.
Try as I may, I was not going back to sleep.
I don't know why I wanted to go back to bed, I love quite mornings.
Getting up, I made coffee, scanned my emails, all of them full of Black Friday deals I should be thankful for.  Next I looked at the countless posts on Facebook with kind greetings for this day, Thanksgiving, one of my most favorite days of the year.
This year we would be hosting dinner at our house.
My parents and children all around the table together.

A gift.

As I scanned all of the "thankful" posts.
My heart stopped when I came across one from some ladies I admire who are working as midwives in Haiti. The post read:
"Prayers needed now. 16 year old Kerline (written about many times) is in trouble. Not finding heart-tones. Bedline is 7cm and close to delivering. Please pray for these women and for us".

My heart was back in that place, back in a place of heaviness.
Heaviness for them, for her.
This was Thanksgiving, wasn't this day scared, a day of family, food, friends and celebration.
It stung, my attitude, my selfishness.

Yet, my day with family was wonderful.
Two days of cooking paid off and as a bonus we got a family picture out of the deal.
Christmas cards would be done on time this year.
I tried to dismiss the weight.
The thoughts of what it costs to live out the things we ask God for.
The passions we feel called to.
I wrestled all day.

When all the company had gone, I tried to send messages to my friends.
I hit delete.
I prayed, knowing that it would be in eternity they see this little one living life.
I was praying they could see the fruit of helping one with greater need, having the grace to embrace living outside of their personal needs.

My sleep was filled with Haiti.
I laid in bed waking up early again.
I was thinking about how many people this morning are laying in bed praying for God to use them.
Never knowing what is on the other side, not counting the cost.
Not because they aren't willing, but have no idea.
I was thinking about God.
He is God even when a sixteen year old girl has to deliver a dead baby on Thanksgiving day.
It wasn't sitting well.
I wanted to argue, I guess I was, I just wasn't saying anything out loud.
I had created another list in my head.
I wondered if she thought about turkeys falling from the sky in a better place.
I thought about my friends, their questions for God.
He was after all God.
I thought about how we rush him to use us.
Now knowing, from being on the other side, this was one of the reasons Paul talked about a man named Abraham, "who against hope believed in hope".
Death is no respecter of holiday, family, personal belief or age.
Or our lists for that matter.

How do you recover from the days filled with things that make you questions your core?
Remembering your children and husband will be needing you soon, so will the women who come the very next day in need without regard or understanding for your questions.
Raw, unable to find your voice, the only thing you can do is cling.
Cling to him.
You question, "can this really be my calling"? You have nothing to give.
There is weeping in the cool of the shower, in the silence.
You will feel needy and not want your children to be too far away.

Everything is different.
How you see life, yourself, God, what you need, what you want - nothing is left untouched.
You can't go back to life without passion, without cost and you know it.
You asked him to use you, to touch those who are hurting.
You and your life remain changed, but you don't know how, not yet.

As I lay there, I remember years of asking, questioning why, when, how?
Use me Lord.
Feeling like the Lord was going over me with a refiners fire bringing everything to the surface.
Preparing me over and over again for the things bigger than me.
Establishing within me things that would require new faith, building character.
Finding Him.
Always needing Him.

This kind of pain can destroy marriage, family, self, hope, trust.
We are never knowing what is just over the starting line.
Things causing us to draw on faith, the substance of things hoped for, not seen - defiantly, not seen.  Not knowing needing something greater than myself would be required just to breathe.

There isn't time.
How do you unpack it, touch it, deal with it.
You can't so you tend to move.
Just moving out of habit, going through the motions, so it would seem.
You do it poorly. Tears and emotions come out side ways know you lost a bit of your heart.
You understand why women stop fighting.
There is yet another mountain, another day and not enough strength for either.

Nothing can prepare you for the day when you find nothing left inside to give.
The only thing that remains, the one unchanging thing that you must know better than you know yourself.

He is God.
He sits on His throne.
Knowing all these things, he took them all on the cross.
Knowing all of this would leave us broken. 
He even holds babies that die on Thanksgiving day.
He said, it is finished for a reason.
He wasn't finished, it was.
All the things we don't have the power to change or understand.
The things that leave us with a chip because we don't have answers and feel the injustice.

In His world, it is manna that falls from heaven giving us what we need each day, not turkey.
In a still small voice where deep calls to deep, we can hear him call.
He knows the journey, he gave us the passion, he intends to use it.
He will wait.
For a few more days crying will come easily, for no reason it seems.
It will take time, the kind of time David talks about when he says, He makes me lay down.
It isn't a surprise that the very next thing he will do is restores my soul.
They that wait on the Lord will renew their strength. 
He will make all things new.

For this, I am thankful.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Richest Inheritance

I have often said, 

"some of the greatest lessons I have learned in life are from the poorest women I have worked with".  

They have taught me lessons in courage, faith and trust.

They have called me to task in living the life I believed possible for them.

Poverty isn't just about being poor, poverty is a mindset, a way of thinking. 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

My Dad Is Just Really Rich

I have never met any one like him.
We didn't really hang out all that much.
Truthfully, I am not sure I really liked him.
My first take away from this guy was, he is a little too stuck on himself.
Insert Carly Simon's "You're So Vain" playing in the back ground when he walked the room.
We hang out in the same circles.
Not on purpose.
Only on a few occasion did I really ever say more than a hand full of words to him.

I mostly listened to the stories he told.
I am not sure that after listening to his stories that I didn't have to admit I had become a bit jealous.
He had the opportunity to do some really awesome things in life.
It was as if he had a sign around his neck that said:
I have a really good life, with really good stuff, full of really awesome experiences and people.
To which he would explain, he had these chances in life because his dad was really rich.
Yes, that is exactly what he would say, "yeah, my dad is just really rich".
Who says that?
I once heard someone say to him, "you take really good pictures".
To which he said, No, I just have a really expensive camera.
Oh right, we know, your dad is really rich.
How can that not make you not want to kick someone.
Really, just punch them.

But after more listening and more stories, I am not sure he was being ugly, rude or all that vain.
He was just stating a fact.
Don't get me wrong, the fact that he sang Puff the Magic Dragon while driving, only wore swimming trunks and flip flops added to the wonder of it all.
He had this crazy confidence.
No, wasn't really a word in his vocabulary.
No didn't seem to exist and money wasn't an obstacle.
He did and experienced everything single thing he wanted.

I say all of this because I think I learned something from him.
Simply, it is how I should look at life.
Now I know the Lord says, he owns the cattle on a thousand hills.
He also give us good gifts.
But do you ever say, I have a really good life, with really good stuff, full of really awesome experiences and people because my dad is really rich.
Isn't this the same kind of Father?
Like isn't this the God that says you are my temple and I dwell in you.
Me, the creator of the universe, I choose you.

So, why? 
Why are you not doing what you love?
Don't kick me.
Like I wanted to do with the guy with the really rich dad.
Just ask yourself.
What if I dare to think of my life in these terms.
There nothing I can't do and no weapon formed against me.
Because, well, my dad is rich.

We are not in the same circles any longer.
His dad is, I am guessing still really rich, so is mine.
I have a really good life, with really good stuff, full of really awesome experiences and people.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

What Wisdom Looks Like

I have lost track of the numbers of times I have prayed, make that begged for wisdom.
So many times life stuff had gotten the best of me. 
I needed wisdom in ministry, with my children, in my marriage and friendship.
Dear Lord, just give me wisdom in everything!  

The other day I came across this scripture in the book of James and it seemed to jump off the page at me. I thought to myself, sure is a good thing you did the Beth Moore study on the book of James.
It was obvious that I had read it because I underlined it. 
 But, I was coming up empty.
 I am reading James 3:17-18 and it seemed to me Beth had left out these verses . 
For some reason it all seemed new; had I ever seen these before. 

I stopped.
I read it again and again and again. 
I even took out my journal and wrote it out with my pencil.
It was so rich and full of life to me. 
All of a sudden wisdom seemed to be a real person.
Someone I should know, recognize face to face.
All this time I could have been physically looking for and asking for these specific things to be fruit in my life. 
If I was a list person here was the list. 
I could have been checking off boxes all this time. 
In all the times I have asked for wisdom I never thought about what it should look like (in me) or how it should act (in me).  
I just thought I would wake up and be way smarter than I was the day before. 
All of a sudden I would have the ability to be a really great wife and give really great advise to friends and never get mad at my children because I would have wisdom. 

Here is what James says, 

Wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure

then peace-loving 



full of mercy  

good fruit 



It was so simple. This is what I should be have been looking for all along.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Moses and The Organic Church

After getting Alyssa out the door to the bus on Wednesday mornings, I would load up diaper bags, pile Madisen and Parker in the car, drop them off in the church nursery, grab a mouth full of coffee cake, a cup of coffee and find my place among the other moms.

Looking back, I can remember the day I went to the grocery store in my pajama pants and didn't know  it until I walked in the front door of the store. Getting to bible study left me feeling much the same, a little rattled and unprepared but after getting in the groove, I loved these mornings.  They offered a sanity check, even though most weeks I could barley fit time in to do my home work.
I still went finished or not.

It was during this time, I remember feeling like so many of the stories in my home work really did apply to everyday life.  Maybe you are not familiar with Moses; he was adopted, murdered someone in anger, ran from his calling, struggled with public speaking and yet after his argument with God he said, yes.  Yes, Lord I will go where you say, do what you say and take all these people with me 'cause after all you are asking me to do nothing short of crazy.

No where did I ever remember as a child the part in the story where the Lord said to Moses,
"Because you didn't trust me enough to honor me as Holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I have given them".

No way! Those words felt like a punch in the stomach.
I felt sick, I was sobbing.  Really sobbing.
How on earth could this happen?
So what!  He hit the rock and didn't speak to it just this one time.
This was crazy!
Besides, all they wanted was water did it really matter how they got it?

It did matter and it had nothing to do with water.
In the end, the Lord took Moses, showed him with his own eyes the land he promised and said, "but you will not cross over".  When it was time, Moses died and the Lord himself buried him in Moab.

Something familiar seems to be happening to the church today.
Things are changing.

Can't you feel it and hear it.
At times you can even feel the hairs bristle on the back of peoples neck.

Leaders, status, revival, buildings, music, lighting, coffee in the middle of church, people painting, home groups, missions, prayer, healing, formal clothes are gone, even iPads and cell phones have replaced bibles.
Heck, my pastor doesn't even wear shoes when he preaches.
(That's how I knew this was our church. Well, sorta.)
People are not finding what they are looking for in all the old programs and well made plans.
You can hear people saying, "I just don't want to go to church anymore".

Some are calling this "organic" church.
I think they should call it, "don't you dare hit the rock if he said speak to it 'cause you just might miss it."

It won't matter that we have done church the same way our whole life.
I believe we will see more and more like in the days of Moses and the promise land.
Groups of people looking, waiting and believing for God to show up. They are not afraid of grass hoppers in the land while they personally go in and scout out the land, not depending on one guy to do it all for them in the name of God.  We will find people in everyday life that need Jesus and believe that this is church. Doing stuff like they did in the book of Acts.

It's not about all the great things you or Moses did so many years ago, the Lord knows these things.
Nor is it about him being mad at you or the church.
I am guessing he loved Moses deeply if he took the time to show him his faithfulness and to bury him.
He is asking us to be different, to act different, to believe different.

Think of it like this...

Holding on to the way we used to do church, unwilling to embrace change, believing what we did in the past is what God is asking for today. Only one day it may very well be like finding ourselves totally unprepared standing in our pajama pants when we get to church.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Ghandi's 7 Dangers To Human Virtue

virtue:noun1. behavior showing high moral standards 

On one of our lay overs coming home from India I found a book store.
I loved India and I love a good bookstore - score!
I purchased Ghandi's biography "My Experiments with Truth".
To be honest, he is a mystery to me, all four hundred and ninety-one pages of him.
I have found so much wisdom in his thinking.
You can't help but to deeply admire his self-discipline.
He wouldn't condone envy, but I did envy the compassion he showed to the poor no matter the cost. 
Whole heartedly I agree when he says "poverty is the worst form of violence".
It is an unspoken violence, leaving deep imprints in how you see and feel about yourself. 
I wonder about his salvation. 
From what I could tell he couldn't really wrap his mind around Jesus.
India has so many "gods" and yet it still seems like they long for a Savior.
Yet, so much of what Ghandi did and said happen to be very Christ like.
He even went as far to say, "your Christ I like, but your Christians not so much".

I have been thinking about his list of virtues.
It seemed to have something missing.


Wouldn't it be dangerous to the human virtue to live and not be loved?
Shouldn't it say:

8. Life with out love

When he talks about his life I am not sure he ever talked about being loved.
He had great compassion and lived his life for justice.
When he talked about Jesus, I think he loved what he stood for yet struggled that he was all wrapped up in one package deal the included the Trinity. 
Paul says, we can't add one thing to the gospel and if we do well, basically it isn't grace.
It is a gift with out works on our part.
He, like so many can't wrap their mind around the fact that one act of righteousness trumped 330 million gods.  
If Ghandi wore regular clothes I am guessing the grace part made him squirm. I know it makes my skin not fit so well at times when I am busy thinking I can add to what was done with a few good deeds.
After all, who in this day in age had the ability to achieve change in an entire country, deny himself so much and literally change a good bit of the world.

On a personal level he seemed to struggle with relationships, yet he had the ability to move humanity as a whole. Like how do you do that?
Virtue, well, I guess he had that down.
Love, grace and a Savior?
I wonder.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Cooking Lessons - Cambodia

Since I am teaching myself to cook a few new ways I had to take the time for a cooking lesson.
I was thinking Cambodia would have been similar to India but I cound it was very different.
I was suppose to be working on stringing beads with the kids.
And I had been doing that for a few hours, so it seemed like a good time for a break.

The shopping process alone is huge.
Traveling on a tuc-tuc to the open market, hand picking every single thing you need.
She started with home made fish paste, garlic, cilantro.
Fish paste smells pretty close to death in a jar.
Laughing they asked me if I wanted to smell it - thankfully I knew better.
Garlic and cilantro are two of my favorites.

The paste mixture, added to boiling oil and dry seasons.

She chopped a mixture of greens - washed and washed, rinsed, washed and rinsed the greens.

Finally, she added a bowl of fish heads, Knorrs (chicken flavor) and red pepper paste.
The death smell of the fish paste was finally gone leaving me so wishing I was eating lunch with them.
I was thinking a change of pace would have been good about this time on the trip.
However, there was no way I was willing to risk all that can happen when you cook (and eat) with un-filtered water.  No, I have been there, done that let's just say.
Call it what you want, I never want to have it again.

As she worked, she was teaching a few of the older girls (and me too).
The huge pot of rice cooking would soon be covered with the fish stew.
It was time for beading.
My lunch would have to wait.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Same, Same, But Different

There is a saying in Cambodia - same, same, but different.
You see it on t-shirts everyday.
By the time you leave you have several of these t-shirts in your suitcase ready to take home with you as gifts.
Believe it or not, right there along with Courier, Garamond and Helvetica there is even a font named, you guessed it, Same, Same.
On a daily basis, right in the middle of a conversation, someone will say, "same-same" and your thinkin' same as....what?

Where did it come from?

During the Vietnam war, tons of different things that everyone use to see and use were no longer available. 
When they would go to market in search of all their usual household staples and comfort foods the couldn't find them. 
 New things started coming into the country to replace all the favorites and the street vendors would say to them, 
"no, same, same, but different".

The saying just became part of their culture and never left.
It cracked me up how many times I thought about Haiti, saying to myself - "same - same".

See for yourself...







See..same, same but different.
No matter what side of the earth we live on, we really are the same in so many different ways.