Monday, January 30, 2017

Repairing With Gold


Image result for broken road

We have walked this journey now for 14 years and each path has been uncharted - unknown territory,  strewn with uncertainty and unpredictability.

Just when you think you are understanding how to navigate the terrain, an unexpected trail emerges...(so many 'uns'...uncharted, unknown, uncertain, unpredictable....!!???)

Right now we are stepping out a very painful walk - stepping without knowing if there is even another one ahead...?
Walking as a family with a very precious girl in her battle with cancer -  each step of fear, anxiety, grief, loss flip-sided with it's corresponding desperate grasp on hope, faith, trust, longing....

Walking alongside her closer to an impending end fills me with so many emotions -
I want to believe in miracles and hold out for them but the pungent taste of reality stings me to accept that just being here is a miracle alone.....Should I ask for anything more!?

Slowing down each wavering print in the path doesn't alter it's direction - 
The unavoidable....
There is no reverse gear anymore...there never was....for any of us!

I'm searching the horizon - straining to see the distance left ahead?
How much time? How far to go?
How close is terminal?
The questions that resound like an irregular rhythm drawing us closer...
This was not in my plan....off the chart I had unconsciously mapped and constructed....
A way I never anticipated to turn into.....
No return!



Yet faith remains unmoved - a heart that in its brokenness still trusts....
Eyes that pour with liquid prayers watching a child we love gradually fade....
Holding hands together......capturing smiles to keep them as treasures,
The richness of love immeasurable,
The power of gratitude,
The extent of sacrifice,

Somehow I am praying that these pieces will be 'Kintsukuroi' - REPAIRED WITH GOLD -  and someday I will look back and see this journey with eyes of understanding;
Although it was not my chosen direction, that it was made more beautiful for having been a broken road.











Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Love Transfusion

I was young, enthusiastic and somewhat naive when I first began working in this intense ministry field. An unpredictable and volatile territory where I sincerely believed without a doubt that we were (and still are) mandated to respond and try to make a difference among vulnerable children – Perhaps it was a factor in my favour which kept me optimistic and prevented discouragement from turning me back on my steadfast resolve….???
Image result for rock climbing
I still shamelessly have that childlike and seemingly stubborn heart – that refuses to give up or surrender – that sees the cup as half full or the challenges as the potential and opportunity rather than the obstacle ……but the journey has definitely dented, bruised, tainted and crumbled the ‘Disney’ dream of happy endings, where those you reach out to, love and give your life for ‘all live happily ever after’……..

The road of reality has been strewn with messy lives, tears, frustrations, fears and shared brokenness…..an unyielding fight to hold fast to hope and a sometimes daily battle for each step that this restoration process involves for every child…..

A courage contest to believe…..

A perseverance struggle to find (and keep) staff who are committed for the long haul, without glamorous results, rewards or compensation….who have both the character and determination to really stick it out and love unconditionally without measuring the sacrifice….
Image result for obstacle
This challenging year has brutally stripped my own simple heart bare and exposed afresh the rawness of love….uncovering the vulnerability of opening up myself further to pain…to loss….to more disappointment. 

 Self-preservation dangerously erects walls of limitation that inhibit transparency and prevents growth. The protection becomes a division and a barrier to authentic relationship.
Image result for walls

Hollow attempts to conserve our inadequate core resources backfire through detachment and self inflicted isolation....disconnection from ourselves and those around us.

A sweet, wise friend once told me that pain is the evidence of life….if there is no pain or bleeding then life has already gone….

 Pain is confirmation of life still pulsating through my soul….through the veins of this daily work….an active transfusion through us and out into these kid’s lives….as long as we remain connected channels without blockage.

Image result for bamboo water pipe

It is the thread woven through and holding a messy, broken, hurting, vulnerable family together, the magnet that draws the prodigals back home…… It is the only answer I can give and the only source that sustains each moment
Image result for transfusion

Although I am severely lacking.....the real and only supply is immeasurable.....




Thursday, May 26, 2016

Walking With The Broken

THIS POST IS IN HONOR OF OUR HOUSE OF JOSHUA STAFF:

Over the years we have faced so many trials in this ministry with children. We have also seen such accomplishment, laughed and celebrated with joy as they move forward with hope and expectation.

Each one has their own story....ones we have listened to....wept over and with.....

The child who was hung in a rice sack over an open fire for punishment,
The child who was raped when they were 5,
The child who was continually violated by those entrusted to protect,
The child who scavenged garbage bins for food to feed his brother,
The child afraid of their drunken father's violence,.....

Two days ago I had to explain to a frightened and confused young girl that she has cancer.......

Just a month ago she was running, playing badminton, laughing, singing.....and in such a short time she is now facing a much greater trial than any of us could anticipate. Silently and undetected the tumors have grown and multiplied and now as a family we are faced with so many questions and unknown territory ahead.

These times that challenge us most to our very core are the moments that determine who we really are.

They give us a choice....

Our response reveals the honest contents of our heart, its motives and who or what we are ultimately rooted to....the choices that really matter.

Although walking alongside our kids is often painful and raw, unexpected and unpredictable it is also an incredible responsibility entrusted to us....... and an honor....
We have been entrusted with the incomparable task of being part of a very wonderful and unique family....to love and shepherd each one...and learn from and with one another in weakness and in strength.

We are not assured of what lies ahead, but as we walk with these children..... perhaps to the end and beyond........even though the steps may wrench our hearts and flood our eyes, I will still consider it a joy and privilege to love them through it.


And I will give you the treasures of darkeness
And hidden wealth of secret places,
In order that you make know that it is I,
The LORD, the God of Israel, who calls you by your name.
Isaiah 45: 3

Our staff who give beyond their time and energy are investing themselves in the lives of others. The salary is limited and the persistent tests are sometimes a strain on even the strongest of heart (mind, and will)....yet love remains......sacrificial, messy and relentless...Their choice to love and to give and to not hold back when others can and have walked away measures who they really are......

It may not fill their wallet....but it certainly counts for eternity!





Thursday, December 10, 2015

A Measure of Mercy

After many months of not writing here.....not for lack of stories to share but an inward struggle to word them in line with my heart.........I am finally back!

Last night has unexpectedly propelled the pen back into my hand hence my sudden return! (with the intention to stay and be a voice once more!)

TO THE MAN WHO HELD UP MY SON 
AT GUN-POINT LAST NIGHT:

THANK YOU!

Thank you for sparing my eldest - my beloved son!

THANK YOU for offering him a chance ....to live, to breathe....to grow and become a young man!

The small measure of mercy that you held in your hands before him is a seed which will return back to you!

WHY?

Because I prayed for it!
I prayed for you, a stranger....a man I have never met and will likely never know.....or perhaps I have?
Perhaps I have stood with you in the supermarket line waiting to pay for groceries or have even been a former passenger in the taxi that you drive but I was fortunate to ride with you in better circumstances?
I will now never know who you are or what lead you to pull out your gun but I prayed for you.

I prayed at 4 am in the dark upon my bed with tears like I haven't  pleaded or prayed to God in months....

I prayed God's mercy to flood your life -
For you to encounter truth...for the dark places to be exchanged for light....
I prayed for your family, for your health, for YOUR LIFE!
For your personal situation to be changed...for your protection, for the provision you need.
For you to encounter a GREATER measure of mercy than you  had the courage to show by not pulling that trigger.

Again I THANK YOU....
Because as I held my son in my arms - weeping and trembling at your threats of death...I was not angry...I simply gave thanks that I could still hug him and wipe his tears.

AND in that moment I renewed my commitment.........and I intend to passionately keep it:

MY COMMITMENT TO:  my precious children, to the orphans and abandoned street kids in our care....to ones who have led a life like the one you have right now......

My commitment to love, and reach, and rescue and teach and train them....... TO BE SEEDS OF MERCY

They will be and are part of this generation rising....ones who love and respond with care, ones who exchange the fear and hatred for compassion with action, and forgiveness. Those who realise they can refuse to be imprisoned by circumstances or chained by their experiences, or abuse ....whose hearts are expanded with the capacity to move forward and upward and outward. The chance before them to break out AND from that place of newfound freedom  to then victoriously break into the desperate, broken places with active, beating, responsive hearts and hands that are open and ready to get dirty.....

You will not know what you started at 3 am this early dusky morning...but I will credit you as the one who planted a harvest far, far beyond anything you could imagine.....

....and I will continue to pray for you!

Mercy and Peace be yours today, tomorrow and in the days and months to come!

" Blessed are the merciful....for they will receive mercy!"






Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Kidnap Wish

Those who observe from the comfortable side lines have called her wild, immature, and manipulative and indeed she can be all of those things - 

It’s easy to judge a book by its cover, or a person by a moment; the way they eat, or talk or laugh or don’t meet an expectation or unspoken standard we have raised unknowingly against them.

Her name means ‘sweet’……and beneath the first impression rough exterior there is a vast and unfathomable capacity within her to love, a receptive and willing loyal heart that she alone is still discovering. 

Those rugged outburst edges are just a protective crust around the vulnerable and precious - A rough diamond for the shaping….. I’m convinced that as she continues to learn to channel the furious passion that drives her she can and will be unstoppable…..

 Usually when you ask a 12 year old girl what they want to be or dream of they answer with ‘A Doctor’ or an ’Actress’ reply or with an indifferent shrug of the shoulders that conveys ‘I don’t know or want to think about it’ response……

BUT when asked the other afternoon what she wished for her life, the simple and matter of fact request that spilled out so openly still has me reeling and processing its true meaning:


“I want you to kidnap my siblings and bring them here to House of Joshua”
(Translated into English)


Back ‘home’ on the street there are others……just like her, scavenging in garbage cans for scraps, avoiding clashes with intoxicated adults or drug high gang members, sleeping on the hard cement slabs in shop doorways, begging, stealing, surviving…….children who have seen and experienced things I will never comprehend. That was her daily life just 8 months ago –neglected, shirtless, alone, hungry and afraid.

And now her first Christmas is just around the corner among the many firsts she has experienced over the past few months. How easy it is to take for granted a bed with a pillow, or a shirt, own a towel, underwear or a toothbrush…..the chance to learn to read and go to school, eat 3 times a day, sleep in safety, have a birthday (with a cake)….

Of course, I’m not going to kidnap anyone! (Just in case you are worrying!) –

 BUT I am honestly captured by the simple realisation that there has been unmeasured worth to what has honestly been for us a weary and relentless year….

The doubts, confusion, tears and failings of trying to lead this family have filled barrels - but it has meant more than I really comprehended.

I found this note on my desk the other day from another of our adopted children....



They are just small little things.....but more than enough for me.....


This may have been a challenging year....however love is not wasted……and even if it were I would gladly squander it on these ones......NO REGRETS!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Letter to Dong

It is Lifenet Children's Foundation's 6th anniversary!

Six whole years since we were formally certified as a legitimate and registered charity......It wasn't really the start of the journey but it marks one of the chapter's opening paragraphs......

I wrote this letter back in 2009 to the first boy who captured my heart......The SEED that keeps on growing.......( The Lost Coin Project )



Letter to Dong
A Disabled, Abandoned Boy
Cagayan de Oro City, Philippines

I remember the first time you smiled – a genuine smile that lit up your face. Weeks of visiting you on your wooden frame bed, the stench of urine and waste on the dirt floor and wondering if you even knew I was there as you sat vacantly not wanting to move or interact. But at last we had at last really connected - Eye to eye – heart to heart. In the absence of language so much was communicated and you had for short moment something to smile about. Maybe it was the bubbles I had blown for you because you reached out your finger to pop them and looked at me with intrigue….

You studied the plastic shapes, rotating them in your hand and even tried to stack them. If I dropped one on purpose you reached down to retrieve it…..You pointed excitedly at the picture book, the basketball and the bike. What kind of life had you known before your abandonment? Your family? Your memories? What was your real name? So much I longed to know and understand.

They said it was a miracle when you got out of your wheelchair and walked with me. It wasn’t a miracle at all – you had the ability but had been left too long. You picked up your feet so deliberately and the other boys laughed as you marched. I wondered what else you could do if given the opportunity?
 There was so much life- a beautiful soul in a neglected body, caked in dirt, ingrained into your skin, always a running nose and deep echoing cough that never seemed to go away– a beautiful life hidden in the corner, forgotten and unappreciated….

I kissed you on your cheek last Christmas and promised we would have a place for you one day where you could know love; a home, a place to belong, to grow and be more than what you had been so long limited to. I dreamed it as a place for you. I drew a room for you downstairs in the plans and imagined you there on a proper bed, with a pillow and blanket, clean, with your book, laughing…..That dream was too late in coming for you…I’m so sorry it has taken so long….

You will never know how much your life inspired me – to reach out beyond myself, to believe that it is possible to make a difference. Knowing you and loving you, was the seed. May the tears that stream down be as liquid prayers to water it….and may it grow, not as a memorial but as a promise that you and countless other children like you deserve so much more….

Be loved dear one in the arms of your Father– who saw you and knew you and holds you forever.

A precious treasure in my heart always,
Loving you too,
Tita Mary


Sunday, October 12, 2014

Lost Coins: Finding The One!

Its more than 6 months since I last wrote about this journey:

The dream has been unfolding and growing steadily - A home now full of children aged 7-16 years - Kids who are abandoned, orphaned, neglected.....This is what it feels like I was made for.....Yet so often I'm still not satisfied....I feel like and identify with the woman who lost 1 coin - always searching and considering how to find it - My eyes are fixed on the many I have in one hand but with my heart turned outward focused on what is lost.....and the hand that is empty.

And so has begun 'The Lost Coin Project'  which is becoming a pursuit for answers and action- It is initiated and fueled by my sighting of a lone street boy as we drove home the other week - He was yanking on the sleeve of a security guard outside a bank in the city centre. The guard with his rifle gun slung across his chest, bullets in his belt,  shrugged him away in dismissal and obvious annoyance.....I wondered what the child was asking? He couldn't have been more than 7 years old...just a couple years older than our own daughter.....Why was he there alone and so late? Was he hungry? Was he just bored and trying to irritate the uniformed man, unfortunate to have to stay awake through a late night duty?

A few seconds later and he was out of view....We had already moved into another city district - It was pouring with rain and we needed to get home.....I later realised and confessed to my own children the next morning that we should have gone back.....I should have responded - I was just like every other person out late that evening - heading on with my own business.....My eyes saw but I blinked and it was gone ... I didn't take the opportunity ........(and I work with street children?.....really??????)

The 'Good Samaritan' was the only one who stopped and took action.....Why do we so often pass by?.....Too busy with our own agendas? Too inconvenient? Too costly? Too tired? Too distracted?....Next time I will (we promise ourselves)......So many excuses for inaction. ....Or are we just becoming so accustomed to switching channels with the remote of our heart as we are numb and deadened to feel anything anymore?

My own unanswered questions and evaluation of myself are resulting in an exploration to discover the value of the 'Lost Coins' around us - The ones that most walk by without seeing as they have rolled into the gutter and few venture in the dirt to find them.....They aren't worth very much - They are not worth replicating or forging as no-one is interested in 'small change' - The big bucks matter - The large currency notes - We don't drop those so easily -  but the few coins that get lost along the way?? Well they aren't really worth the time and effort for.....

For me that holds a hard reality - Coins that we have actually held in our hands but lost -  those children who somehow slipped through the net or were sucked away.....Coins that really count!.....Twelve have been lost in the past 2 years as runaways from House of Joshua.....But.so many more have rolled away over these past 11 years of street children ministry.....Children that have died from treatable sicknesses, ones that have been murdered, ones that are now in jail, ones that have mysteriously gone missing, ones that are addicts, ones that now work in the garbage and dirt scavenging for survival.........

Far more than a handful of just loose change!

In the past 2 days two runaway boys have come back...One is now back sleeping in a bed as we start again with his restoration process - coming back off the solvent drugs, filling his mind with life and truth in exchange for the stealing and manipulation he returned to.....It feels like we are back to square one (AGAIN) - the other we will meet with on Weds as he and 2 others are now requesting to return home (again)

Honestly - I'm not sure they are actually ready to come back to House of Joshua - the transition is so challenging - The autopilot response to run when confronted with anything that triggers their fragile and temperamental 'flight' button - Their legs run and move before the heart and head catch up......and then its too late....

SO....what do we do now?......It seems like we need to change some things to help them move forward - the repetition of two steps forward and one back means we haven't moved anywhere with some of them....My Dad has always said 'If you change nothing, nothing changes'.....

But I don't know what change should look like if it is to be lasting among such dented hearts? Should we re-consider a Drop In Outreach Centre again?......How do we KEEP the little coins that we do find?......those that would be lost in the open sewage drain or stomped on by passing unaware, unresponsive feet.....

We need another door to reach these kids - They are vulnerable and slow to trust - relationships take time to build (crack, tumble, fall and rebuild again) They long for family but its the very thing that triggers so much pain...I'm searching for answers.....and in the meantime some of these coins get lost and then turn up (again and again).......They may be more dirty and tainted....but their value hasn't changed.....Small in a hand but worth more than we could dare to count.

"Whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus did"  1 John 2:6

(PLEASE see our family blog that we just started : : http://lostcoinproject.blogspot.com/ as we challenge ourselves and others to take action and respond practically to find the lost coins around us and show their value.....Maybe you should consider joining us and make a difference yourself?!)