We Asked for a Christmas Feast

For Nail Day Christmas 2018, we asked for a Christmas Feast. Not our typical Nail Day fare: crackers, cheese, and birthday cake. But a feast. To celebrate the birth of Hope, the birth of our Savior and our King.

Volunteers signed up to help serve. The Ellis room was adorned with cheerful lights and pretty decorations brought by a thoughtful volunteer. The atmosphere was charged with joyful expectation. But the feast. Who would answer the call we put out to a few of our faithful ministry partners?

The feast as delivered that day by the Women of Moraga Valley Presbyterian Church. Ham, turkey, soft rolls. Apple cider. And the dessert? Home-made pies. Not one type, not two, but five flavors. Pumpkin, Apple, two types of Berry, Pecan. Real whipped cream. Candy canes to stir mochas made to order. 

Home-made pies from the Women of Moraga Valley Presbyterian Church

Ladies were delighted by our annual gift bazaar, which featured winter clothing, socks, gloves, and hats gathered throughout the winter by kind-hearted BJM friends who know how hard it is for our ladies to stay warm. Gifts for every guest, because at this the darkest time of the year, every woman needs to experience what it feels like to be seen, cared for, and remembered.

That morning, I wrote a mini-sermon. Christmas, the most wonderful time of the year, also brings up feelings of loss, loneliness, and disappointment. Due to difficult life circumstances, many of our ladies are separated from the families, their kids. And her am I, someone who has everything by comparison, and yet I too was struggling with feelings of despair. The darkest time of the year.

I shared my talk with Lynae and Julia and Ruthie. Is it too painful? Is it too bleak? Do we need to put a bow on Christmas and smile like everything is okay, or do we acknowledge the pain and invite Jesus in?

They encouraged me to bring the message to our guests. And of course, I tried to get out of it – it’s too noisy, no-one wants to listen.

And then a hush fell over the room as I started speaking. Heads nodded. Together, we were real about our feelings, and real about our need for the Light of the World to come into our stories. And then, we had pie. And gifts, and laughed. And were all the more merry and bright. Immanuel, God with Us.

Surrounded by God’s Majestic Beauty

BJM Recruiting with Ruthie in Montana

In October, Ruthie and I traveled to the YWAM Montana base to recruit staff and interns for BJM.  Indescribable color was ablaze everywhere – red, yellow, amber, emerald and forest green. Nestled in a valley literally across from Flathead Lake, the beauty was overwhelming.

The possibility was almost unimaginable. Out of this pristine place, so close to God’s original plan for His creation, young women could be called to serve in the radically fallen urban heart of San Francisco’s Tenderloin.

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Nail Day Yay!

yay

exclamation, informal

expressing triumph, approval, or encouragement

Last season, I went through a painful crisis of faith. Our women’s Nail Day outreach was moving from weekly to monthly. This BJM ministry had become central to my life. Caring for women who experience poverty, isolation and rejection, I had seen God’s faithfulness each and every week!  In the face of desolation and lack, He had proven to be the God of More Than Enough. Not only was I concerned for our Nail Day guests, I was secretly terrified that distance could set in and He and I would somehow lose each other.

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Today was a different kind of Nail Day. It did not end at 4 PM.

During intercession prior to serving, we reviewed the Easter morning accounts, starting with the road to Emmaus from Luke. We moved on to Mary at the tomb, mistaking Jesus for the gardener.  She mustered up all of her fortitude to ask “Where did you take him? Tell me so I can go get him.”

She planned to tend to his body. Not unlike the woman who washed his feet with her tears, she was overwhelmed. “Mary.” “Teacher.” With her, it was personal. Unlike the disciples who had been disappointed because Jesus did not come through for them as the liberator/Messiah, Mary, had lost the lover of her soul.

We shared Mary’s story at Nail Day today with this question: Jesus seeks to reveal himself in your deep places of disappointment. Where can he meet you?

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The Great Commission

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matt 28: 19-20

Some respond to this call by serving unreached people groups in China, India, Thailand, Africa and the Philippines, as part of the world-wide movement to translate the Word of God into native languages.  When no Bible translation is available for certain dialects, such as in the remote jungles of Thailand, missionaries improvise, devising puppet shows, dance and plays to act out the Gospel in ways that transcended language barriers. Continue reading “The Great Commission”

A Very Personal Testimony of Healing

Warning – This story is one of pain and redemption.  Read it if you are prepared to go deep (and maybe cry a little). 

I recently discovered that I had been keeping God at a distance, and then projecting it on to Him, like the distance was His choice. He surprised me by breaking in to this belief system to show me that He was not the one who chose distance. It was I. But why?

Because of my basic disbelief that He would want to be with me, or that He liked me. The reason for His distaste? Because I was bad. This belief started early, and although it has faded as my faith has grown, it still lingers, like a latent virus or an autoimmune disease.

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