Your Hand In the Fog

unnamed-2

I know you have plans for me

I know your plans are good

I try to trace your working hand

But sometimes it hidden in fog

Clouds of fog close around me

I beg to see your hand for a moment

I beg to see your plans for me

The chaos and noise threatens

Threatens to drown out your voice

Gently you speak, wait my child

Trust my hand is there in the fog

Trust I am working steadily

Though you may see nothing at times

So I put my trust in my faithful God

The one who always keeps his promises

The one who can see when I can’t

The one who’s plans are greater then mine

The one who battles His plans for me in Heaven’s courts

The one who turns my suffering into beauty

So I’ll follow patiently on through the fog

I’ll trust he’s working in the silence!

Advertisements

Sweet Fragrance From The Scar

IMG_5450

I held a flow’r, I let it go

It fell softly to the ground

Forgotten it laid there all alone

Soon crushed by a hurried shoe

Delicate petals broken and bruised

Softly came the footprints of a child

Folks hurried not noticing the flow’r

But the child trotting, eyes to the ground

He let out a squeal and gently grasped it

Mommy, mommy, a pretty flow’r

She turned to see it bruised and broken

Son, it’s dirty, broken and no good

But Mommy, it smells so much sweeter

He softly touched the scars on the petals

There from the scar the sweet fragrance came

With the gentlest of hands he tucked it in his pocket.

So take heart pilgrims struggling and broken

Beauty still abides in the imperfect and broken

Junior Girls Week – Camp David – Part 1

232323232fp83232>uqcshlukaxroqdfv95-8=ot>8938=;44=346=XROQDF>26736-3<35255ot1lsi-2 It was junior girls week and my co-counselor Sarah and I were in our cabin with our 4 campers getting our luggage settled in. Instead of having the typical 4 campers, this week  we had 5 on our list. It had been 2 hours though since all the rest of the campers had shown up and I was beginning to greatly question whether she’d even show up. Knowing many of our campers came from very dysfunctional homes I figured that something came up; maybe she wasn’t able to get a ride, maybe she didn’t have anyone that put her as a priority, maybe this had happened to her more times than she could count and it was just one of many dissapointments and empty hopes and promises!  As I continued thinking about the situation, I thew my oversized backpack under the bed that seemed like I always ended up needing something during the week that it didn’t contain no matter how much a packed each week… camp is unpredictable sometimes. Just then I heard a clear, small knock at the door, my co-counselor and I jumped up to open it and there standing in the doorway was our 5th little girl Katy. She was very petite and small with straight brown hair that framed her face, she was holding a very large black, tattered suitcase, big enough she could easily fit herself into it.  She looked at us slightly skeptical and we told her “welcome to the Crystals cabin, come on in.” She stepped in and the middle-aged lady behind her said “well there you are Katy, have a good time and we’ll see you in a week” and off she walked up the hill. We were in the middle of baggage check so I asked Katy if I could go through the list with her to make sure she had everything she needed. She smiled a little and said sure. Unzipping her large black suitcase, she lifted the lid and I saw a small pile of clothes sitting in the bottom of it. “Let’s go around and say a few things about ourselves so we can all get to know each other” I said. “How about your favorite color, your age, and your birthday.” Chrissy went first, stating her favorite colors, that she was 10 and her birthday was October 7th, then the next girl and the next. It was Katy’s turn and she simply stated, “I like purple and I’m 9”. “When is your birthday?” I asked, hoping she would feel valued and that facts like that were special about her. She looked back and me and smiled and said, “Well, I’m in foster care and things like that aren’t really important to people so I’ve forgot since no one ever brings it up.” I sat slightly taken back when she said it as such fact with no emotion. Ever since I was 5 I can remember looking forward to my birthday and wondering what surprises it would hold! Dear Chrissy, our only alumni camper, quickly piped up, “Well, I guess that means your birthday could be any day so we should just be extra nice to you every day encase it’s your birthday that day.” Katy flashed a big happy grin! “Wow,” I thought, “maybe these 10 year olds will be teaching me instead of me teaching them!”

photo_3

That afternoon in free time Katy squealed, “lets got to the petting zoo.” Gabby said she want to go to but the other three girls wanted to go back to the cabin to get stuff. So Katy, Gabby, and I headed to the petting zoo. We stood there with sticks in our hands scratching the pig’s belly. The duck, who the girls had hope to pet, was running to the other end of the pen. “Why does the duck not trust us?” Katy asked. “Probably because too many kids have chased him and not been nice to him so he’s scared of us now.” I said. Gabby thought for a minute then said, “You know, I kinda feel like that duck does sometimes; it’s really hard for me to get to where I truly trust people!”  “Amen,” Katy said, “I’ve had too many people come and go. You have to prove to me that you care.” I knew both of them were from foster care and had a lot of things in common, including the same caseworkers. I hoped they’d realize it and find a connection in it. I asked them if they wanted to share a little bit of their story. Enthusiastic Katey jumped on the chance, “I live with Miss Mary and she’s okay; she takes care of us but I don’t get along very well with the other kids there. Before that though I was in a really bad foster home, but Macy, my caseworker, came one day and told me to get my stuff together because I was going to a new home.” “What Macy are you talking about?” Gabby asked. “My case worker Macy, she’s really awesome.” Katy said. Gabby paused and said, “Wow, that’s crazy, she’s my caseworker too and I love her. I remember the night I was put in foster care, it wasn’t that long ago. I woke up in the middle of the night to my mom trying to kill herself. Police and all sorts of people showed up, and I was taken away that night at 2am. It was a big mess and the wildest night of my life. They finally found me a home the next day and things settled down a bit.” Katy frowned slightly and said, “Sorry Gabby, it’s not fun being in foster care.” The bell rang and off we ran to Fort Turley for dinner. We finished up chapel and headed back to our cabins for small group discussion. It was share-the-gospel night. My dear three and I were inside the cabin and my co-counselor had the other two on the front porch. I only got a few minutes in when my girls started firing questions. “I’ve wondered for a while, why didn’t God die instead of Jesus? because that seems selfish to make his son die.” Arie said. Katy looked confused, “Okay, so can you explain exactly who Jesus is and why he had to die, because before this week I hadn’t really heard of him.” The questions continued to flow faster than I could answer. Arie and Gabby both had a relative in their life who would take them to church and VBS sometimes so they knew quite a bit of the basics of the gospel and had some deep questions about sin, suffering, God’s faithfulness, and sovereignty. Katy, on the other hand, believed there was a God, but shot out questions all through the week about the most basic things of the gospel and salvation. Katy was laying in one of the hammocks humming a tune when I walked over and asked if she wanted to be pushed. “Yup!” she said with the little Katy twinkle in her eyes. I started swinging her and she pulled her arms in tight by her side and squeezed her legs together. “I’m a worm in my cocoon right now, BUT!” She said bursting out, “I want to be a butterfly so bad!” She giggled and flipped her hair out of her face and spread her arms and legs out in the hammock trying to mimic a butterfly flying. I kept pushing and pulling methodically on the rope and talking and laughing at her knock knock jokes she started, but inside my mind was busier than a hive of bees on the last day of summer. “I wonder,” I thought “if Katy was just saying that as something random, or if it did really hold some depth behind it, and she was trying to communicated something to me. Maybe this analogy fit our 26 campers here this week quite well! Maybe all these girls feel like caterpillars sometimes that are a nuisance but under the right conditions they could bloom into a beautiful butterfly!” I thought for a moment, “I wish so bad that I could just keep my girls forever and pour my life into them, giving them every opportunity possible to be a beautiful carefree butterfly that knows they are loved by God and the people around them and they can feel safe to bloom!” 232323232fp83232>uqcshlukaxroqdfv8623=ot>8938=;44=346=XROQDF>26696-5498255ot1lsi The next evening as we were having small group and talking about different struggles, Arie piped up, “I like it here, everybody is nice to me. At school when I’m home most of the kids bully me and make fun of me because my dad is in prison, they say I’ll ever be worth anything because I’ll turn out just like him. I love him and I’m excited about him getting out. Do you think, Jo, that because I still love him I’ll grow up and go to prison too?” Her head lowered in shame as she finished her sentence. “No, Arei,” I said, “you can still love your dad and have a relationship with him but not be defined by his crimes! Don’t ever believe the lie that you have no choice but to live the kind of life your dad lived that sent him to prision. Each and every single one of us have our own set of choices we can make! Sometimes it’s much easier to just go with one but you always do have a choice, and never forget that Arie! There is always God to be there for us no matter what happens, and never let go of hope ever!”   Part 2 to follow shortly.  *Names changed for Privacy 

The Most Beautiful Woman I Know…

Image

I was asked a question a few years ago that I didn’t have an answer for. 

 
 She chattered on to me about a lady she said was the most beautiful lady she knew. She suddenly stopped, turned to me, and asked,  “who is the most beautiful woman you know?” I stood there drawing a blank; I’d never really tried to figure that out. I told her I’d rarely ever met a woman I didn’t think was beautiful, and hadn’t really sat around trying to figure out which one I thought was the most beautiful. She looked at me a bit surprised, then continued her excited chatter. 
 
Even though that conversation was a few years ago, I never forgot it. Over the last few months I’ve thought about that conversation a lot and now have an answer for her.
 
Dear Girl,
She has eyes so big, bright, and cheery they can light up a room. Her smiles are so big and freely given, everyone around her can’t help but smile back. Her face is radiant and kindness exudes from every pore of her being. When she smiles, it’s as if the whole world stops to smile.
 She does everything with gracefulness and poise. She is not demanding, yet her demeanor inspires great respect. In her presence, guys turn to gentlemen, opening doors for her and treating her with care and respect like a woman ought to  be treated. When men act like gentlemen these days, sometimes ladies are offended and think they consider them weak and powerless, but she does not. She treats men with great regard, respect and dignity.
  It is with the utmost confidence and peace, she walks through life. Not with pride and confidence in herself, but the greatest confidence that the maker of the King of kings and creator of the world walks beside her, every single step of the way! She knows she needs fear nothing, with Him at her side.
 One might think that because of her great happiness, confidence, and peace, she has led a carefree life; free from bruises caused by trials and storms. But quite the contrary. Those bright and beautiful eyes that I envy have shed more tears than could be counted! Her beautiful, kind, and tender heart, has been smashed and shattered many times with grief and sorrow! But she let her savior use that to make her heart softer and more keenly aware of others pain,  instead of growing heart with bitterness.  Her contagious smile that some dare to wish they had, has been born from sorrow and heartache, that led her to find the truly lasting joy and peace that can be found in having a personal and intimate relationship with our Savior.
Yes, she is a beautiful lady, who once people have met, they rarely ever forget her!
That, my dear girl, is the long in coming answer to your question. I could write for hours about her, just as you could chatter for hours about the most beautiful woman you knew. But hopefully you got a glimpse of this truly beautiful lady. Oh, and did I mention, soft white curls frame her face. The most beautiful lady I know is 86.
   Love, the girl you chattered so long to.
                       -Joanna
P.S. Remember
“Who can find a virtuous women? For her price is far above rubies.”
Proverbs 31:10
” Strength and honor are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come. She openeth her mouth with wisdom and in her tongue is the law of kindness.” Proverbs 31:25-26