Translucent



A heart that you can see through is a heart that can be used to shine the glory of God through… clean… pure… authentic.
When I think of the word “pure,” I think of the color white. I think of my heart being “white as snow” when it’s considered a “pure heart.” But in reality, I know that the purest form of gold is not in fact gold, or even white… it’s clear. What about “Clean water?” Is that white? Or anything other than see-through?  An honest heart would not be clouded or masked by an obstruction of any sort, right? Reality must be present when honesty exists and if the reality of the heart is blurred… than so is the authenticity of its’ existence.
Which brings me to the word “translucent.
The pastor at a church I visited this past Sunday was speaking on the value of and call to have a “clean heart” as talked about throughout Scripture. It was a message I love to hear because it often involves a few of my favorite passages of the Bible… Psalm 51Ezekiel 36.Verses that cause you to re-evaluate.
As He was sharing, Papa em-blazed this word, “translucent,” clearly into my thoughts (Love it when He does that!).   I pondered over it, talked about it with Sheldon as we drove down the state of Florida towards vacation a week ago,  and even began to try and practically review my own hearts’ state to see if it could be categorized as such. I mean, what on earth would it look like to possess a “translucent heart?”
Vulnerable. But not quite see-through. 
See-through would be thought of as a phrase revealing much vulnerability in any context and for me, God prodded my own clouded, translucent heart to reveal the next phase of my relationship with Him. He wants me to have an honest, clean, pure, and ultimately authentic heart. He wants to be able to see through it because of its’ intrinsic naked reality.

He wants my heart to be “transparent.”
How?
How do I become honest? How do I achieve purity of heart in its’ ultimate and most basic form?
I continued to soak in this question as our beautiful vacation of laughter and relaxation continued…
My heart, valued as gold, must be melted down. Subdued to its’ base level… it’s going to be a painful process. Not because my God desires me to suffer humiliation but because He is so real and at the base of who I am as a being created in His image… He has already been there and done that and desires me to reflect Him as an image in a mirror.
What else besides a mirror has a reflecting affect? Many types of metal and water.
Metal is melted down to its’ purest form for shaping and the stillest of waters reflects most clearly. My lesson here? Apply my heart to the refiners’ fire before being formed and sit patiently while He allows peace to cause His perfect reflection.Eventually, my translucent heart will produce the best product of  His workmanship… undefiled and completely transparent love.

please return to read more on my next blog entitled “Love Divine.”

myMission: atlanta

I AM GOING!!! Not only did my friend donate to my serving at this worthy event but has also decided to go herself!!! PRAISE GOD!!! He provides the funds and the laborers!! 

Now my new question is… WHO ELSE WANTS TO SERVE AT THIS EVENT???!!!

We can carpool and/or meet up while we are there and work as a TEAM for the weekend!! Please, let me know if you are as excited as we are about serving these women!!! You may comment below or find me on Facebook!

We plan to register THIS Monday (July 15th) either way but would love to go as a team!!

(If you are unable to go but would like to sponsor someone else going, please click “donate” below and it will go straight to a willing servant of this event! THANK YOU!)

stepping into the rain


As we entered the village that day, the sun shone hot and the clouds moved lazily through the sky. The afternoon was cheerful and the ownership of plans in tact. We were to wash the children’s hair with shampoo and speak to the families with smiles and an equally cheery countenance. These were our only mission points, so to speak. We just wanted to help the children with their lice and the families with their hope. God had a different plan for me that day. His plan would wreck me. His plan would set my heart on fire. His plan was not my plan. His plan was not for me. 

Pay Pond.

The children were laughing at all of the silly American antics as we walked and my young Cambodian friend told me more of her dreams of the future with each step we took. She wants to be a pastor. She’s sixteen and very determined to share the love of God that she has received. We walked on and finally reached the wooden open air hut we were aiming for. We did wash the children’s hair and there was even a tiny little girl, staying in the hut with her aunt and uncle next door, who I gladly conversed with (She spoke English very well!) until the moment of all frozen moments of my Race happened. It just happened. 

I looked up from the tiny head I had just washed clean and saw a woman in her 40s, rubbing a large coin across the arms, back, and legs of an older woman laying flat and with nothing on but an old blanket.  I rounded the group of children and with a pounding heart, approached the scene of deliberate life giving motion from a daughter for her mother.  She was working the body back and forth with her coin to bring circulation to the weary veins of a woman she loved, trusted, and had been cared for by many years before. Honor. I saw honor in this picture and could only take it in with short breaths. 

The chorus of lively children seemed like a stark and almost slap in the face kind of contrast to the reality of this broken woman lying flat against the war of time. She had been strong and now, even in the face of obviously great pain, she just lie there. Still. Unwavering, not knowing what state she was in… no, not caring. She just didn’t care anymore and you could tell. Her daughter cared though and so she rubbed on, over the bodily signs of fatigue and the pooling of blood shown along the outside lines of her frail, hungry frame. 

If I had been shocked by this picture, I would have been shocked by a thousand others the ten months prior. Instead, I stood there staring  utterly connected in spirit with this elderly woman, tired from years of something she never asked for and yet was born into by divine appointment. Here she was, lying still. So still. And then there was her face. Wow. The look in her eyes as she opened her weary lids left me speechless and in a split second I made a choice. Slowly my hand reached forward and she stared back much like I had just done. She looked from my hand to my face for a few seconds and then also made a similar choice. She uncurled her arm from under her bare chest and slower than you can imagine, reach her worn fingers towards mine. My arm was fully outstretched, if you can picture it, because I was standing on the ground and the landing she was perched on was at shoulder level for me. For 45 uncomfortable minutes, we stay as this. Me reaching out in great feelings of sympathy and she holding on for life. 

Sorrow. Her eyes held so much sorrow, my stomach turned in knots. My friend, Hannah, joined me for a while and even cupped her hand over ours for a bit but soon was, believe it or not, redirected to this elderly lady’s sister who was also “bed ridden” behind the sheer and tattered curtain on the other side of this worn out porch. There were two of them. There were two of us called to their sides that day. I was glad to not leave my new friend’s side. More than anyone else the entire 11 months, this angel, this tired angel, needed me to tell her it was okay, without saying a word. And so I did. The Spirit of a very living God told me she was sad and we never said a thing. He said she was so sad right now because she was missing her husband. I didn’t know why exactly, assuming by her age that he had long passed. I began to intercede for this woman and specifically her broken heart. 

Those long minutes passed but our eye contact never faltered. I soon realized that this grasp was not enough to release this woman of her inner agony. More action needed to be taken… and with that, I bounded the few steps to reach her level and with a gust of emotion, laid down right next to this precious woman. There might have been times on the Race when I worried about cultural norms or the need to fit into a society nothing like my own but this moment called for an unsung courage that I do not possess on my own. This moment was about her and there was something she DID need from me that day. The love of my Jesus, face to face with her… to carry her burdens far from her. To take on her fears, sadness, and desperate loneliness. It really did take lying flat on the hard wood to win over her trust. We began to sing.

A song filled my heart and I began to hum… still no words necessary. She hummed along. I had yet to hear sounds from her mouth but here they were, quiet. Sure. I looked deeply into the pools of blackened sorrow that shaped her almond eyes and I told her something with my own blue eyes that was only a message from heaven, “It’s okay. You mean the world to me and your heart will feel better soon. You have done so much… been so much to a family who needed you, to a village that needed you. It’s time to let me love you. You’ve done well. You are beautiful and I want to take your sorrow from your bones so that you can lie in peace for the remainder of your days, though they are few. 

Wrapped up in the love of the moment and the serenity within the shrill shrieks of the exciting day in the village, I almost missed the rolling in of the dark clouds above our heads or the feeling of chill gradually filling the humid air. As the thunder sounded and the lighting began to streak across the now rugged sky, the translator was asked to make a few specific inquieries about the family, the two older ladies and more. We found out that the two elder sisters were 90 and 91, mine being the oldest of the two. We also found out that a big portion of their issue at the moment was that they were starving… to death. The family had not expected them to live as long as they had and could not afford their meals on top of the rest. I did find out that her husband had only died the year before leaving her so alone and beyond broken. 

Even though the religioius statistics of the country would project otherwise, somehow I knew she knew Jesus and when I asked about this very thing, this old woman’s daughter looked at me instead of the translator and said in another language quickly translated, “She and her husband ran the missionary church in the village over from here. She hasn’t been back since her husband died and she is brokenhearted.” I knew the timing was perfect. I knew this woman’s incredible heavenly Father had planned this. And I knew that I was at the right place for the right time to share an unspoken message with her that would determine the rest of her long lived short life. She was finished and her Papa just wanted her to know that she had done well and that He loved her. 

I finally pulled away from the old woman that had stolen my heart for an hour and a half… maybe a lifetime. The single stream of tears down her right cheek was slowly wiped away and although she never smiled with her mouth at any point, her eyes were definitively lighter and held a speck of light that was unmistakable. She would live well for however many days she had left because she knew the truth. My friend and I were able to bless them with $5 each… all we had on us since we didn’t typically give out money. I wouldn’t even tell you that we gave if it wasn’t so key to what I want to share with you in this story… $5 equaled enough money to provide a MONTH of food for each of them. The mother smiled broadly as the translator shared that she would be back to check on the use of the funds. She would be a good daughter. No doubt in my mind. She already was. 

As Pay Pond slid her weathered blanket further up and over her shoulders to reveal her feet to the cold wind, rain began to fall. Rain began to pour. 


Who knew that my return to the Race, following a short stint of celebration at home, would bring the absolute best moment of the entire 11 month journey?? Some people mentioned to me that they would have stayed home given the chance but I always knew that there was more that God wanted to do and for humbling reasons that I certainly cannot explain, He had chosen to use me. 

In church this past Sunday, the pastor on the simulcast spoke words that have stuck with me into the week. He said, “The Spirit of God is always raining down on God’s land. It’s those stepping into the rain that reap its’ rewards of refreshment, renewal, and powerful love.” I’ve noticed that I often feel tired, weary, and even fragile in this life I live whether walking on the dusty road of Cambodia or driving the paved Scenic Highway in Pensacola, FL USA. It’s certainly easy for me to forget the power of God that He filled me with long ago and for Whom I claim to live life dedicated to each day. Many times the simple act of walking out into the showers of what He is offering is all it would take to encourage me or create in me a selfless outlook into the impact I could make in that day. It’s perspective. It’s acknowledging what’s already there and taking place whether I join in or not…

So I pray that I will always acknowledge the rain of the Spirit all around me. That I would live better than without and larger than too small. He wants every person to feel the intensity of what He shared with How Sieng through a single stare. Even me. He wants me to know Him and hear His messages. He is not hiding. He is allowing the rain, even on the sunny Florida days. This rain isn’t depressing as some are… it’s empowering, invigorating, and enticing for an amazing life just waiting to be discovered. 

I did have to walk away from Pay Pond, maybe one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. She will only live days and I know it and then she will be waiting on me. I like that thought a lot! No more pain, no more sorrow, only beauty, and altogether perfection in the arms of the rainmaker. 

As Hannah and I held each other and walked home that day, the rain came down so hard that our vision was blurred and yet we shared the same feeling of walking above the ground just a bit because of 1 hr and 45 min of heaven on earth with Pay Pond and her sister, How Sieng. This rain felt just how I described God’s rain above. 

There will always be this decision… to be in the rain with the Spirit, instead of staying under the shelters that we make for ourselves to protect us from the hurts of the world. 

I want to be soaked through. 


beLOVED.,
Lauren!<><+

the seventh day

“…and at the end of the sixth day, God looked at all he had made and it was very good… and on the seventh day, He rested.” – Genesis 1:31 & 2:2
Home has been many long awaited things but the one thing I felt the need for when landing with butterflies in my stomach and a knot in my throat on American soil. Rest. Undisturbed, revitalizing rest. The rest that makes you want to curl your toes up in the warmth of a blanket. Rest that says, “Your home.” The kind of rest that let’s you sit free of distractions. From all you’ve seen, experienced… and even faced in your world and in my case, around the world on my World Race.
I love my home. I used to see the word “home” and consider it a synonym for the word “Egypt” and all the history that Egypt holds within its’ grasp and meaning. For years I’ve felt that my return home would be going back to where I came from… returning to the place I was in… giving up the identity that I am and choosing my past as the present and future. Do not confuse my loved ones as cause for fear because they too lived through tragedy to become what they are now, Overcomers. No, it’s not them at all. It’s the idea. The thought that what was and was horrible as it was might somehow become my way and will again. Egypt was not an option. For the last 6, going on 7 years, I have been pursuing the Promised Land.
My car was named Moses last year! I’ve mentioned this in a past blog, I know. It humors me to think of the drive in which we have to pursue what we want… what we are passionate about. I am passionate about FREEDOM.
Just shy of one year ago, I said “see ya later” to those loved ones and a few new ones (Okay, one new one in particular ;), in effort to follow HARD after the will of my Savior. He said “go” and I simply said, “yes.” 
(Above pics by Ali Kendrick)
(Team 1: Aletheia)
Month one (Ireland) was a shock, not at all what I hoped for and yet exceeded my expectations of community in incomparable ways. 

(Above pics by Ali Kendrick)
Month two (Ukraine) was busy, exhausting, and fulfilling… a real difference maker for so many children, and us. It was about becoming a team member, instead of an individual. 
(Above pics by Ali Kendrick)
(Above pic by me)
(Flag pics by Christian Norris) 
Month three (Moldova) often left me quaking with the newness of the spiritual realm and how real the presence of darkness can be. It also put a fight in me as a daughter of the most high King that I had never experienced before. I want to write more about Moldova… it seems to be the most productive work I did in the kingdom this year visibly and I couldn’t even converse in the same language as most I encountered. 
(Above pic by Daniel Whited)
(Above pics by me)
(Above pics by Ashley Francis)
(Team 2: Team Team Ignition)
Month four (Kenya) rocked my world and my worldview and even my confidence in the life that I am capable of enduring and even enjoying. Prayer and deliverance. Hope and inspiration. These were the important “things” that I did in month 4. 
(Above pic by Diane LaCour)
(Above pics by me)
Month five (Tanzania) makes me weary just talking about it but I know Papa worked in ways I can not see. 
(Above pic by Ashley Francis)
Month six (Malawi/Mozambique) seems like a blur because of the randomness of our work, the focus being taken off of our ministry and on to us, and even the way in which God used simple conversation to change my life. 
(Above pic by Tyler Lee)
(Above pic by Diane LaCour)
(Above pic by me)
(Above pics by Ashley Francis)
(Above pic by Meghan Tschanz)
Month seven (Nepal) was long awaited because of the words given to me the year before about its’ great significance in my life. I learned month seven, stricken with sickness and incapable of “leading” as I thought I needed to do, that I don’t want to be needed by the world. I just want to be a part of it. Moving, changing, living, and mostly loving. I led better that month than I ever did the rest of the year as a Team Leader and then a Squad Leader… because I rested in the presence of God and left the results up to Him. I began to be greatly humbled.
(Above pics by Ashley Mueller)
Month eight (India), I was busy again. Maybe busier than I was month two, if possible. Planning for month nine (Womanistry in Thailand!) with my accomplice and fellow Team/Squad Leaders, we also determined our minds to focus where we were and as Jim Eliot commissioned long ago, be all there. It wasn’t difficult because the precious children at the deaf school we served at reminded us of why we were where we were by the very groans they produced to praise our King as they could. We were indeed all in. 

(Above pic by Rachel Ritsema)

(Above pic by Deon Vanstaden)
(Womanistry. Pics by Georgia Dewey)
(Above pic by Ali Kendrick)
(Above pic by me)
Month nine (Thailand) was a blessing. Working in the Red Light, a coffee shop, and clearing brush in the village, all the while looking after the hearts of all of our World Race girls with two other Squad Leaders, created a month of great joy and challenges for me personally. God began to confront the deepest parts of my identity and to rock my world in relation to what His plans for my next season following the Race really were. 
(Above pics by Georgia Dewey)
(Above pic by me)
The tenth month (Malaysia) of the World Race brought difficulty as I had not faced as each day became a fight to stay honoring in a degrading society. Women were not treated well in the town we lived in and we were no exception. Our contact was incredible, however, and I did in  fact meet me in eighteen years in the form of a special Chinese lady. We became besties and it redeemed a month of silence, forced to remain quiet about the hope that leapt inside our hearts each day. Religious and gender persecution were nothing to play around with that month. The team I was visiting with that month really banded together and we grew because of it. 
(Above pics by me)
The beginning of month eleven came with a great surprise!!! I went home (US of A!) to celebrate my Mama’s graduation and was blessed to see Sheldon baptized as well as to celebrate one of my sister’s bdays with her for the first time in ten years! What a blessed seven days! Seven days… hm. I returned to the Race to finish. The rest of month eleven (Cambodia) could not have been more memorable. Incredible youth, orphans, rescued women and amazing squad mates ended my World Race with a celebration of what God can do when you just say yes.
(Above pic by me)

(Above pics by Georgia Dewey)
(Above pic by Deon Vanstaden)
 
(Above pic by Diane LaCour)
And that’s that. My World Race in summary! As I look back on what could be compared to days 1-6 of creation (eleven months, actually!), I do now as my Creator’s daughter as He did then. He looked back and smiled… so do I.
There will be days where I think back to this month or that one and think, “I could have done more or something different,” but God (as my example in all things) did not do this. He looked at his work and he said, “It is very good.” I now choose to do that too.  This summer really is my day seven. It’s time to rest. Not just because the World Race is over but because my Life Race has only just hit a stride and for me to not tire out, I must take a breather, a sip of Gatorade (I actually prefer PowerAde), if you will. It’s time to let go and release, time to be, and time to gear up. It’s time to be fed properly and to soak up the presence of my Father in an uninterrupted way. It’s time to process the war zone I’ve returned from. The spiritual battle is not over, it’s just shifted and for me to be in fighting (aka LOVING) shape, I must recharge.

(Above pics are a glimpse into this summer’s rest. Day 7.)

My Papa has not led me back to Egypt… nope! He has moved me forward towards the Promised land, which looks a lot like Jerusalem. Jerusalem is where He wants me to start again. It’s a new season in an old place and it’s going to still be here when day seven comes to a close. So for now look back at what God did last year in and through me as I rest in His promise that He’s not finished with me yet.
I’m looking back at my World Race… It sure was good.
Now rest.
beLOVED.,
Lauren!<><+

PS Just returned from Project Searchlight (A re-gathering of Racers fresh off the field for reentry information, counseling, and refreshment in community and worship at the main office in Gainesville, GA). I highly recommend every Racer go to their own PSL. WORTH IT!!!