Skip to main content

The Beautiful Stories

This week we had our 4th annual International Festival at New City Fellowship.  Most of you who actually read this know that our church here in Nairobi is comprised of people from all over the world and several tribes here in Kenya.  It is messy and hard a lot of the time, but so beautiful when we all work at it together.  The international festival is one way that we celebrate the unique ways God made each of us.  As we have said before, we can come together under one roof and worship the One True God together because we were first reconciled with him through the blood of Jesus, and that reconciliation and peace overflows from us because of the Holy Spirit living inside of us.  It's a glimpse of heaven when it's done right. 

Our church loves to party - one thing we do really well is celebrate!  This year was the fourth year of the festival, and though Shawn and I started it, we found that we weren't all that necessary this year.  It was such a wonderful surprise to see people really own it and do it out of their own desire to see it happen.  We even had to tell people that there was not a budget in place for it this year, so all of that yummy food and those decorations came from the people here.  While I worried this might make it harder for people to do, no one batted an eye when we told them, and instead they got together in their groups and prayed, planned, practiced, and cooked!

Before we moved to Nairobi I would have said I had a pretty good sense of the world.  I am so fascinated by cultures and languages, and I study them as much as possible.  Having lived in a very multicultural part of Malawi as well as places in New York, I thought I was pretty wise to what it meant to adjust to and learn from other cultures.  However I l still learn something new here every day. 

Each year as we put this festival on I am in wonder of the amazing, beautiful ways that God created us. 

When I was younger I would say that I didn't see different colors or cultures, that we were all the same inside.  I said that with a very naive heart, and it was done in innocence and a desire to love people from all over well.  I thought that saying I didn't see a color or hear a different sound was a way of saying that I didn't think any different of them than I do myself.  However, I have learned as I have matured and made (a lot of) mistakes, that saying that is being ignorant of the fact that we ARE different - purposefully by our Father.  He celebrates these things! Different isn't a status - it's not saying one person is better or less than another.  It's just what it sounds like - different, not the same, unique!

Yes, it is true that our hearts are all broken and turn to self naturally.  In that way we are the same.  But we don't have to have different skin tones or dialects to see how truly unique each of us are.  My kids - though they come from the same two parents and surely Shawn cannot deny them in looks - each react differently to things.  They think differently.  They receive and give love differently.  Each of their unique experiences have shaped them and continue to do so.  Anyone who is parent of more than one child knows this to be true. 

After we moved here and I started to see the beauty in each person and culture, I wanted to truly celebrate the fact that each of us are created in the image of God.  Yet each of us - somehow - are also our very own, specially made, unique and wonderfully individual self.  I am not sure how that all happens!  The creativity of our Lord is astounding and breathtaking!

So I keep asking God to reveal himself to me in others.  As broken as I am, I know he is working in me.  But I want to remember that he is at work and living in and represented by others as well.  I want him to keep opening my eyes and heart to his beautiful masterpieces all around me.  I want to do this remembering that every person has a story - a story with hurt, love, frustration, hope, desperation, fear, and victories.  I want to really hear the meaning when they share their lives with me and know how to love them better because God is opening my heart to that. 

As I do this I will try to listen well.  I will dance and laugh.  I will celebrate. I will cry with those whose stories are stuck in brokenness and have not yet come to the healing part.  I will pray. 

Not perfectly.  But wholeheartedly.

"Once you are in communion with God, you have the eyes to seer and the ears to hear other people in whom God has also found a resting place."
Henri Nouwen


Popular posts from this blog

Bookends of Beauty

I love the bride of Christ.

I know that many of you reading this have seen the ugly, the broken, the spiteful.  It has been aimed at you or someone you love and the hurt has caused so much pain that you ran.  Maybe you are still physically present, but your heart is not fully in.  I understand.  We've been in full time ministry for 23 years now.  You can't be in this type of life without experiencing some of that ugliness - or handing it our yourself. 

However, I have been reminded again recently how beautiful it can be when it is done as a picture of Him. 

In the last few churches that we have been at where Shawn has pastored we have had a point in our time there where we had to admit that we couldn't do it anymore.  These churches in the States were ones that were under redevelopment - meaning on the brink of closing for one reason or another - and we were brought in to see if there was any health left and to push it in that direction if the answer was yes.  That means …

Kwaheri Kenya

It's my last night calling Africa home.

I feel like the last several weeks I have been on auto pilot - doing the things I needed to do to wrap up work well and get things in place.  This week we had a lot of goodbyes, however my eyes stayed dry and my emotions in check.

But today...

What a hard, beautiful, honoring, loving, joy and sorrow filled day.

I was standing and looking out the window tonight and feeling like this chapter has come to a close.  I don't just mean Kenya - though that is the immediate, in-your-face thing.  But this dream of living in Africa.  Ever since we spent the year in Malawi I have longed to come back and live.  We lived in the most rural you possibly could in South Sudan to the crazy chaos of Nairobi in Kenya, as well as the in-between in Blantyre.  I've seen poverty I could never have imagined, and money that I never knew existed.  I've lived on the brink of war and through insane elections.  And I've shown off this life I've loved …


Listening to music always speaks to my heart in ways that seem to break through even my most grumpy, tired, or distant flesh.  I have a current favorite right now that I could listen to non-stop, and whenever I hear it I feel like my emotions explode to the surface. 

"Peace, bring it all to peace
The storm surrounding me
Let it break at your name..."

If you've listened to Christian radio or worship in a place in with contemporary music at all you've probably heard the song "Tremble."  It's not new.  Nor is it filled with a truth I have not heard before.  But something in these lyrics touches me deeply in this time of my life.

Right before we left Kenya I spoke at our church ladies retreat.  One of the things we talked about the first night was how we are in a battle.  We so often and so easily believe the lies that are whispered to us from Satan and shouted to us from the world about who we are, our worth, and our identity.  The longer we allow these l…