Wednesday, August 06, 2014

From Headlines to my Hometown

**I wrote this the day before all of the ISIS Iraq issues hit mainstream news. All the more relevant now.

Those Central American children who have crossed the border. 

It all seems so far away from my simple, splendid Summer in small town Georgia. 

But it's not. 
My brother and sister and law lived in Israel years ago.
We have served with Samaritans Purse/World Medical Missions.
My husband trained in healthcare at the hospital in Atlanta where the Ebola patients are being treated. 
My cousin was deployed and serving in Afghanistan this time last year.
I have been to the areas of Central America these children are fleeing--and seen first hand the extreme poverty and machine gun toting men on every corner. 

These issues do touch my life--not to mention my heart. The people in these places are God's children too. And yet, all of those experiences are a bit removed from August 2014 as I send my kids to tennis camp in the morning and while away hours at the pool in the afternoon. My greatest conflict these days is how to limit my children's purchases at the snack bar. I am simultaneously grateful and disgusted.

I keep the television off at home because it is anxiety producing. I read news when I want to and skip a few days when it is overwhelming. The issues are so complex--and my limited understanding comes from bits and pieces I have read--certainly not enough to really grasp the problems, much less formulate a solution.

The thing is: I want to care. I wish there was something I could do to help...but what in the world can a housewife in Georgia who can't even keep up with her laundry supposed to do about these crises a world away? 

My belief in a Sovereign God reminds me that He put me here--in this place at this time in history. Again, I am incredibly grateful for this life of relative ease--but struggle with WHAT IN THE WORLD would honor God most from this position. We pray. We send donations. We return to our first world lives. 

I have had this lengthy conversation with three different wise people in my life in the last week--and we all shook our heads. As we spoke about the tension of not being consumed but not being complacent either I was reminded of all the places in life where wisdom demands we are stuck in the both/and.

Grace AND truth.
Truth AND love.
Wisdom AND faith.
In but NOT of.
Grateful but NOT complacent.
Concerned but NOT fearful.

My chest tightens a little just typing it. The tension. And yet, I don't think tension has to be a negative emotion. 

For believers, the tension serves as a reminder of our need for an Almighty, all-knowing God that is big enough to handle the complexities of this world. The healthy tension is what keeps us tethered to the Lord, kneeling at His feet, cognizant of our desperate need for Him, clinging to the Cross.

As I have been struggling in the last week God showed me some beautiful opportunities to serve in place. The simple domestic task of cleaning out a bedroom turning into a beautiful lesson in the provision and care of God. A couple of our afternoon family adventures included babysitting foster children (which felt like play dates to my children win-win). And then, Saturday, a simple trip to the park became a humbling and poignant lesson in how very much my heart had in common with a Mom whose outer appearances and circumstances were quite different from mine.

I was reminded that our God wants us to know Him. He tells us in Scripture that when we seek Him we WILL find Him. 
What we read in the headlines matters, but we must remember that the very same sin and human need that has led to so many crises overseas in also alive and well in the communities He has settled us in. 
So, let's spend less time being overwhelmed by headlines and take them confidently to Him instead. 
Let's look up from our phones to see the very real needs of our neighbors. 
Let's stop wringing our hands and open them to serve.

I am learning that when I PAY ATTENTION to the tension God is faithful to remind me that He is right here and willing to allow me to be part of His story of redemption and love.


Sam said...

Hello, I never comment but I read your lovely blog regularly. Tonight I feel compelled to comment because this is such a beautiful post and resonates so deeply with me. You articulate so nicely the weight one carries when they care deeply about human suffering around the world. Like you, my heart aches for all of it and I spend nights worrying and praying and thinking about what I can do to help. And it starts with helping each other, with extending grace to those we cross paths with. And with going out of our way to help people, because that's what people should do. I believe that's what G-d wants us to do.***

I think you and I come from somewhat different backgrounds (I'm Jewish and live in New York City.) But I love that I still love your beautiful blog.

Especially this post! :-)

**Jewish people write that word differently than others. Perhaps you already knew that, but I'm saying it just in case so you don't think I made a weird mistake! :-) (LOL!)

JMom said...

Sam, one of my closest friends growing up was Jewish, so I understood the spelling. :) I can't tell you how it blesses me that you have read all these years despite our differences. Still so very much the same :)

Love Being A Nonny said...

This blog post resonates in my soul. It reminds me of my very small offering here in NC. Thank you Jen mom for always pointing us to the cross.

Shelley Jennings said...

I have read and reread your blog. I feel the same about this world and sadly overwhelmed. I have a wonderful job and the Lord has surely blessed me with the ability to go to work every day and help change lives. I to have three children two of which are twins. This summer I have learned that my cancer patients that I am allowed to care for and follow through their journey are easier to care for and understand more than my two fifteen year olds. With the stress of the Gihad & Taliban plus Korea being so unsteady seems at times easier to face than going home. My daughters are 'cutters' and have been battling suicide all summer. One daughter was actually an inpatient at a juvenile facility in June. I just found out yesterday that her sister is having the same issues. As much as I would like to bury my head in my work or lay in bed and never get up I press on. My peace can only come from the Lord.My strength can only be drawn from the Lord. One I truly learn to cast all my cares upon him shall I be free of this weight. I have to trust that my children are covered in the blood of Christ and that I have raised them up in His word & they will not depart from him. Pray for my family pray that I continue to take every thought captive and that I remember Jesus promised that his yoke is easy and his burden is light.

Shelley Jennings said...

I have read abd reread your recent blog. You are right our world is crazy and getting more evil every minute. I try not to become consumed by our surroundings or by CNN. What I have learned this summer is my home life could actually become more terrifying than some Gihad or Taliban. When you are faced with a spiritual battle with your childrens lives it seems nothing else is as important. I have found it easier to go to work and pray with our cancer patients and see them through their journey than go home and deal with my two fifteen year olds. I know in Matthew Jesus taught us his burden is easy and his yoke is light but as much as I remind myself of that scripture it becomes harder to absorb. My teenage daughter was hospitalized in May for suicidal ideations and cutting. I found out yesterday that her sister is also in the same situation. As you can imagine this spiritual battle is diffucult and hard to swallow. I watch the Lord take lives every week through my job but when its your family well when its your own child its hard to swallow. I am drawing my strength from the Lord and my peace can only come from him. I pray the blood of Jesus over my children almost constantly. The truth is what the the Lord gives he can surely take away. Please pray for my children pray peace in their hearts pray the will choose light over darkness. Pray that our family will be overcomers. I claim peace I claim all the Lord has promised and I refuse to allow us to sink. I will take every thought captive and knock the dust off our feet as the Lord has told me to do. Sometimes the chaos of the world becomes quiet and the chaos of your home takes over. The main thing is to always leave people better than you found them because you never know what they are struggling with.

JMom said...

Shelley, I am so sorry for the heartache in your home right now. Praying for you right now. Thank you for sharing this perspective.

Denise Ross said...

Jen mom, this resonates with my heart also. I pray that I do all God asks me to do and in the right spirit.
Shelley, I'm so so sorry for what you and your family are challenged with right now. I'll pray too for. The power of prayer is amazing. Keep holding on, hugs. Thank you Jen for your posts. I always come away from reading them with a perspective that resonates with where my heart is. Blessings.