My husband Brandon has gone to Ethiopia the past two summers.  Whenever he left I would lay on the guilt trip about him being gone for two weeks.  He was always very gracious and kind toward me during my childish episodes but what he should have done is taken me by the shoulders and shouted at me, “You have no clue the difficulties of the world and the grace with which they handle them.  Two weeks is nothing in relationship to eternity.”

This year he asked me to come along.  My initial response was “No”.  How could we possibly leave our four children for two weeks?  How would they survive without one of us to parent, to take care of their every need or control how their days went?   Really what I was more concerned with was controlling my life.  After many discussions, much praying and planning and a bit of worrying I said “Yes” to accompanying Brandon to Ethiopia for his third trip.

God in His infinite wisdom knew I needed to be here and see this remarkable country and meet these beautiful people.  I am humbled that I get to be here.  I have cried tears of joy as I am experiencing this place and its people, being with the Bring Love In children.  I have wept in my bed at night as I think of the Ethiopian people who have humbly served me.  I am praying for God to continue to soften my heart.

I see the ugliness within me that comes out daily and it makes me want to weep.  How can I be so shallow about this life?  The desires of my heart are not something I want to publicly admit.  My desires and daily prayers have not been for more love, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness or humbleness. My desires reflect where my treasures lie.  Jesus warned me, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth where moths and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven where moths and rust do not destroy and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is there your heart will be also.”

Recently, back at home, I was quite upset by what was going to be built across the street from our home—it will block my view of the mountains.  Ugh.  How gross. My easy life has given me a very warped view of reality.   Is this the reality that God wants for my life?

Speaking of my daily life, I love my children very much but as I reflect on my parenting many times my prayers have been for success and ease of life.  I am more concerned with what extra-curricular activities my kids should participate in than how to disciple them and show them the fruits of the Spirit.  Again, ugh.

In Jesus’ Sermon on The Mount he calls us to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world.  He says, “In the same way let your light shine before men that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in Heaven.”  I want our four kiddos to see us live out a faith that follows what Jesus called us to do, love people, love widows and orphans and “be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.”  This will be impossible but it is what I want to pursue.

A sermon I recently heard, the pastor said “Love is how success is defined in the Kingdom of God”.   Sadly, I miss the chance to love others, more often than I would like to admit because I make up lame excuses or chicken out because it could be awkward or ignore things because it will get in the way of what my heart desires.

On the 14-hour plane ride to Dubai, I sat next to a kind Ethiopian man named Solomon.  He was talking about the humanity in their new Prime Minister.  Humanity.  I have been stuck on this word since then.  Humanity means “the quality or state of being human•compassionate, sympathetic or generous disposition”.  These are the traits that are to define us as human beings.  How do I get it so wrong? Is my life defined by these human qualities?

Dear God, Forgive me for not loving people well.  Forgive me for not being compassionate, sympathetic or having a generous disposition.  Forgive me for my fear.  Forgive me for storing up my treasures on earth.  Please change me into a person more like your Son.  You are a good, good Father.  You are perfect in all of your ways.

– Stephanie

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