We are finally here in Ukraine. The flights went well, our apartment couldn't be more perfectly located had I chosen it my self, and our SDA appointment went smoothly. Our facilitator Masha is exceptional, and we have visited all of our favorite restaurants.
I am full of excitement, eagerness, joy, hope, and flirting around the edges, hiding in the very thin shadows are our old frienemies...false pride and fear.
What are they doing here uninvited?
Well that stinking pride is always around and fear is his good buddy. Pride likes to try to hold a mirror up between me and God so that when I am striving to keep my eyes on Christ, sometimes I see myself as he whispers, "look at what YOU are doing. YOU are so capable, YOU are so doing it right."
During times like these I experience misdirected anger at wonderful good news spreading organizations like Operation Christmas Child.
HOW CAN YOU GET ANGRY AT OPERATION CHRISTMAS CHILD?
Pride can make you do anything.
I got angry thinking that I have been shouting for months, years, along with you other wonderful advocates about tragically horrific situations involving precious children who have NOTHING. WHO NEED A MOM AND A DAD. AND A BED AND A SANDWICH. FOREVER.
14 year old girls who've been allowed to waste away to a mere 14 pounds. 4 year old boys whose little legs are criss-crossed underneath them because they need surgery. Children who have horrific scars across their chests because they live on the street and fell asleep on a hot water pipe for warmth.
Everyday this is happening. I have the photos, I've met the children, I've looked into the eyes of the workers who struggle to do the little they can as they plead with me, "don't you know any families?"
And the chorus in my ears when I come home and share is, "I could never do what you do."
And that's when Pride grabs a foothold. Did you catch it?...what YOU do.
Huh. You're right. I do a lot. I do it well. I rock at this. My 6 kids, from 3 countries, with the AIDS orphans and the HIV.
I AM GIVING IT ALL. I AM POURING IT OUT. LOOK AT WHAT I AM DOING FOR GOD.
I don't even realize that poison is in my head, creeping into my heart.
Until it's Christmas time and the big push for Operation Christmas Child comes around. The videos show the poor children, orphaned, abandoned, clinging to their box of dollar store gifts. Kind hearted women tear up as they exclaim how when they realized these children might not get a present for Christmas, well it broke their heart a little. So I bought a gift, wrapped it and sent it, and now I am good for another year. I know that I can't do anything about the fact that that child has no family, but here's some stuff once a year and now I can sleep at night.
This is the story pride tells me as I feel alone in my agony over all of these lost children. Throw a brightly wrapped present at them and it's all good. The sheep go back to the safety of their homes, with their big TVs and 2 cars and 2 kids.
But the Holy Spirit slaps me around a bit and I see what is really happening.
God allows us to live and dwell WITH Him.
As the eyes of our hearts open and we SEE Jesus, we SEE what He is doing, what He is willing to do WITH us, the pride is ripped away and the beauty of how God has worked together all things for our good shines through. In our weakness HE is strong.
Someone who is full of fear about everything can be paralyzed by the all encompassing tragedy of the orphan. Fear tells them there is NOTHING they can do in the face of that.
But Jesus whispers, "come shopping With Me. Buy one of my precious children this small token that will meet the desire of his heart so that he might see Me."
Because of that simple act of obedience, shopping with Jesus, a child knows that across the world someone loved them, prayed for them, provided a gift just for them, because they got to be WITH Jesus. As they hold their gift they realize that they can be WITH Jesus too.
And just like that, the Holy Spirit convicts and removes my pride and I can see Jesus again. I can parent my children WITH Jesus again.
Now as I sit in my temporary Ukrainian kitchen, listening to the snow melt, I feel fear try to weasel his way into my bitter sweet musings.
What are those, you might ask?
I am a woman in transition.
I am balanced on the precipice of change. I cried more about leaving on this trip than I ever have before. I joke that perhaps the hole in my heart is getting smaller. I hugged the kids tighter, kissed them harder, wrote them notes. Cried most of the way home. But maybe I was listening to fear a little too.
The old has gone, but the new has not yet come.
Our old life, with our 6 kids from the 3 countries, with the former AIDS orphans and the HIV had become home.
We love each other.
We have adjusted to each other.
We had our rhythm, our groove.
We will never have that again.
When that thought arises, fear says, "maybe I can do some work here!"
WE WILL NEVER HAVE THAT AGAIN.
WE. WILL. NEVER. HAVE. THAT. AGAIN.
All the things people say when they share all the reasons why they can't do what we are doing run through my mind.
Don't think I don't think those same things.
What if they hate me?
What if they are angry?
What if they are violent?
What if they run away?
What if we don't ever have what we used to have again?
But the Holy Spirit is still with me. Jesus is with me. We do this WITH them. I can't do what I am doing. Only WITH Jesus, guided by the Holy Spirit, in the palm of the Father, do they do these things through me.
The truth is
We still love each other
We will adjust to each other.
While we will be marbles on glass for a while, we will make a new groove together.
We will never have that again, but we will have this: a family with 10 kids.
More truth is
They may hate me... for a while.
They may be angry... for a while.
They may be violent... for a while.
They may run away... for a while.
We will have something new, build on top of the foundation of what we used to have, knowing that the ultimate foundation our family has been built upon is Jesus, and he is WITH us.