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Posts Tagged ‘Mission Field’

feedsheepccc“Do you love me?” Jesus asked Peter – you and me, too.

“Yes”, Peter answered.

Jesus told Peter – and you and me – “Feed my lambs. . . . Shepherd my sheep. . . . Feed my Sheep” (John 21: 15-19)

Last year, my family chose to sponsor through Compassion International an 11 year old boy in Haiti. He is one of those lambs that need feeding, literally and spiritually. My support allows for others to spiritually mother and father this boy – and it allows those spiritual parenting hands to fill bowls and make soul-contact that I cannot because I am so far away.

Christians are a faith people commissioned to take the gospel to the world, to love our neighbors as ourselves, to feed God’s lambs. Yet, as we minister to the great needs of those around the world, it is equally important to not neglect the mission fields in our own communities, from backyards to school yards to church yards – all filled with children and young adults who cry out to be fed and shepherded. 

It is a daunting mission-field, filled with the churched and un-churched – wearing rebellion, disinterest, eschewing group-think and God-think, daring others to look beneath the tattoos and piercings, the black clothes and saggy pants – daring you to find the beauty beneath because they have trouble finding it themselves.

“There are teens with bigger problems,” someone once told me about a churched teen, setting on a rebellion path.

“It’s all in the parenting,” someone else said about an un-churched teen not interested in God the Father because maybe he’s never experience a Shaddai-kind of father.

“There are a lot of people around who can’t wait to tell you what you’ve done wrong, but there aren’t many fathers[mothers] willing to take the time and effort to help you grow up” (1 Cor 4:15).

I’m going to tell you straight up – I think it’s easy to send letters and financial support to a little boy in Haiti who needs. It’s not so easy to walk into the neighborhood mission field, where souls not only wear wrappings to discourage, daring you to come closer, but who fluently push back in your own language – who maybe through that pushing back allow you to feel as uncomfortable and graceless as they feel in this big old world.

When our children – yours and mine do this – we push right back, we reach right in, both physically and spiritually. But there are children – regardless of the age – who might not have a parent who is able, for various reasons, to fight that spiritual battle, to stand in the gap, to weather the ugly storm and fight for them.

“Do you love me?” Jesus asked. . . . “Feed my lambs”. . . “Shepherd my sheep”. . . “Feed my sheep.”

Not just my lambs . . . all the lambs: the lambs He puts in our path between our kitchen counter and the school desks our kids sit in or the sports field we walk on or the pew we sit in. It’s not just a one time feeding, a one time foray. It is a continual going back, our footsteps creating a path of familiarity.

“The real religion of the world comes from women much more than from men – from mothers most of all, who carry the key of our souls in their bosoms.” ~Oliver Wendell Holmes

Spiritual mothers and fathers care enough to slog through spiritual poverty and hunger, through a minefield of emotions that our country’s children seem to battle, so many inside things that tear at them – these spiritual mothers and fathers slog through to carry soul keys to help youth and adults unlock who they are in Christ.

Are you a spiritual mother or father in your community? Are you willing to reach through uncomfortable barriers? To be challenged? To shepherd through real relationship?

Spiritual Parents do that – love children beyond their own, fight for them, push back, get uncomfortable, don’t give up in the ugliness of the challenge.

You don’t have to buy a plane ticket. You don’t have to take foster classes – though both are good. You just need to make your hearts available from your kitchen counter into the school rooms, the sports fields, the church pews and in-between. God will bring them – if you will love them.

“Do you love me?” Jesus asked. . . . “feed my lambs. . . shepherd my sheep. . . feed my sheep.”

 

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No cheese to go with the whine – just blueberries – ripe and un-ripe – pinks and blues.

Sometimes I have to do things like cook and can my great-grandmother’s chile sauce, sit and read a  Pride and Prejudice chapter , maybe knit a row – or pick blueberries – it’s like claiming through sheer determination a sane, choice moment in a life like a packed blue convertible careening out-of-my-control down a steep hill – though whatever is at the bottom of the steep hill is where I’m going- and those moments, those activities bring grace back into it – sometimes surface grace. Sometimes deep grace.

Grace permeating despite the whining – about picking blueberries.

The blueberry lady at the Farmer’s Market invited us to come pick (see sister post, When the Blueberries are Not Yours to Pick). Our familiar patch wasn’t open this season – and I needed to pick blueberries. Not just for recipes – but for inside things, soul things.

At mid-day one Sunday after church, in-between the rains, when the sun came out hot, scorching our skin and pulling sweat out of us, we found our way to this new blueberry patch.

The bushes were only a few years old. We had to bend and squat to pick.

But sweet things like blueberries don’t just come to us. We have to go after them, work for them, sweat and be uncomfortable – knowing in faith the joy they will bring us in the cold months – a jar of summertime unsealed and opened – or a summertime unsealed from a freezer bag – in the middle of a winter snow storm.

I knew God would be there in the blueberry patch. He’d met me there before (see Blueberries for the Soul).

The boys, Keith and I – we each had gallon buckets.
“A gallon each,” my husband charged the boys. “Can’t leave until then.”

The last time we’d picked, the boys hadn’t even managed a quart total. That was with 3 boys and a girl-friend. Today I had two boys and a husband. In the other blueberry field, we stood, not needing to bend – we could reach on our tip-toes to finger-tips stretched, like reaching to heaven.

Here it was harder, more uncomfortable.

I wished I had brought my gardening stool. The boys  wished I’d just not brought them.

“Pick the bushes clean of blue,” I encouraged. “It keeps the flies and bugs away – and it doesn’t waste.”

The blueberry lady needed the ripe blue picked.

I followed behind, gathering what the boys missed.

blueberry2013c2“Guys,” I cajoled, sweat dripping down my back, the pressure in my head rising. Bending over does that to me. I keep telling them I’m old as dirt – but they don’t pay attention. “Guys, – don’t miss a one. Go past the outside branches to the deep inside.”

We picked and they missed so many of those ripe blue inside.

“Think of each blueberry as a child or adult who doesn’t know God – but their hearts are ready – if they’re blue blueberries – they’re ready.”

The buckets slowly filled. We each got better at picking the blue.

God doesn’t want a one missed – not a single one.

Some are easy to reach.

But God doesn’t want a one missed.

Not. a. one.

In the quiet of the picking, my heart prays, “Father, I don’t want to lose a one – not a single one. Like these blueberries designed to be picked – my boys and so many others are designed for you, designed not to be missed.”

As we move down the rows, bending, sweating, I encourage quietly
don’t just go after the easy ones
find the ones in the difficult places
past the chiggers, where wild things might nest
down low in the uncomfortable
or in the boughs where you have to stretch – though that’s not where we are right now

go deep and pull them to me


“You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally” (Ezekiel 34:4)

blueberrysum13Sweet things like blueberries and salvation don’t just come to us. We have to go after them, work for them, sweat and be uncomfortable – knowing in faith the joy they will bring us in the cold months – a jar of summertime unsealed and opened – or a summertime unsealed from a freezer bag – in the middle of a winter snow storm.

It was easy to pull the outside blueberries into our buckets: easy to see, comfortable to pick.

Inside the bush, though, past the easy outside, were ripe blueberries, so needing to be picked.

Teens, Young Adults, Young Mothers, Old Mothers – not making the right choices, not in the right places, trash talking, talking to loud, abrasive – in their words, in their stance – in their style

not in the easy places

not comfortable to pick

Raising boys to men, some take the hard paths to get where they’re going.

God’s not surprised. He went into the dark places, pursued Jacob, Rahab, Samson – they weren’t easy . They just needed time to ripen – like those pink blueberries weren’t ready to be picked. They would be, though – one day – and they were designed for boy-to-man hands to  pick – or mama hands.

I encouraged the boys – go deep, pick every ripe blueberry.

They were designed for picking.

“Look at it this way. If someone has a hundred sheep and one of them wanders off, doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine and go after the one? And if he finds it, doesn’t he make far more over it than over the ninety-nine who stay put? Your Father in heaven feels the same way. He doesn’t want to lose even one of these simple believers (Matt 18:12-14)

blueberry2013c31

If a blueberry is created to give the birds, the beasts and man pleasure – then each blueberry has a mission. If the ripe blueberry wastes itself on the bush – what kind of message does that send to the pink ones, the ones growing to fulfill its destiny?

It sees not destiny, no hope to fulfill God’s plan for its creation.

Sometimes we have to go into the hard, uncomfortable places, to go deep to reach each soul, in order that its its destiny be fulfilled – be complete – be His..

Don’t just go to the easy places. Go to the hard to reach places. Pull as many as you can to God.

Don’t let a one be wasted.

We ended up with 4 gallons that day. Each of us picking one gallon. These boys did a great job going deep and pulling out ripe blueberries, summertime blessings for the winter.

Shaddai – He joined us there in the blueberry patch – and gave me so much more than blueberries. Maybe my boys, too!

4blueberrybucket2
Come of these blueberries fulfilled their destiny
in a Blue Cotton Crunch
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In a Meringue Shell atop a chocolate ganache

(recipe to come)
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and my Blue Cotton Blueberry Muffins

(recipe to come)
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