Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Eyes That See

I knew even then that I had read Matthew 13 dozens of times before, but this time it was different.  As I read through the prophesy of Isaiah I found myself flooded with emotion.
Matthew 13:14-15 (ESV)
  "'You will indeed hear but never understand,
   and you will indeed see but never perceive.

   For this people’s heart has grown dull,
   and with their ears they can barely hear,
   and their eyes they have closed,
lest they should see with their eyes
   and hear with their ears
and understand with their heart
   and turn, and I would heal them.'"

In that moment I badly wanted to turn to Jesus and allow Him to heal me.  Nikki and I began journeying through this verse with Valleybrook Church week after week.  God literally changed my life by inviting me to meet a homeless man within our community who became my friend.  After spending time getting to know one another, sharing lunches, meeting his friends and doing his laundry God began opening my eyes.  

I'm sitting here in a coffee shop (shocking I know!) in Louisville.  I'm fighting back crying again, but this time it is different because no one knows me and it would be very bad for my budding reputation!  Still, I want to cry because I am so grateful that God is allowing my family to see His Kingdom.  He is inviting us to hear His voice and feel the awesome comfort of Him as our Savior.  We are seeing Matthew 13:16 come true in our own lives.

"But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear."

The name "Eyes That See" came out of this verse as Nikki and our dear friend Christy Reppe spent weeks seeking God with their Bibles and hearts open.  They wrote out the vision and values that give the very backbone to this new ministry.  

As we begin describing what "Eyes That See" is about, we will spend some time this week sharing with you some of the moments God has allowed us to see that have changed the way we spend our days.  

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Beginnings for Nikki...

When God put adoption on my heart as juts a young girl, I had no idea the plans He had for me. I'm actually kind of glad I didn't know because I am not sure if I would have boarded that plane in May of 2007.

My first trip to Ethiopia forever changed my life. I traveled there to meet our son Durant. I will always remember those first several moments of my arrival. Leaving the airport and riding in a taxi towards my hotel, I was overwhelmed by the sights I was seeing. It's funny how now those sights have become home to me. But at the time my heart was breaking for the images before me. Hurt, dying, dirty, poor people crowded around my taxi yelling at me begging for money. I started crying with grief that I was just one person. How in the world could I make a difference? The problem is just too big. God why did you bring me here?

Little did I know as the week went on, my eyes would begin to be open to what God was trying to show me all along. He slowly reviled to me that I just needed to look at the hand in front of me, look into the eyes of the person right there. When I did this, I was amazed at what I saw. I saw Jesus in their eyes. I knew that when I left this country a huge part of it was coming with me, not just in the form of my adorable little boy, but in the fact that these people were now my family. I could not wait to get back and share with Matt what I had seen.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Beginnings for Matt

I've had a few people recently ask me how we got to the place where we would leave what we knew to go start working in Ethiopia.  Now I realize, it's not like we moved to Ethiopia.  We're just in Louisville, but that still feels like a world away from Eau Claire, WI.
Nikki will write her journey soon, but for me, God opened my eyes to Africa, and then Ethiopia, through books. Often books are used to teach me.  A few years ago I read a book called Country of My Skull.  It is a very difficult book as it details the violence in South Africa, but it painted a picture of a world I didn't know.  Antjie Krog tells the story of living in South Africa as the Truth and Reconciliation Commission brought closure to the apartheid that was present in South Africa.  This book is where I first got real exposure to the ministry of Archbishop Desmond Tutu and a deeper understanding of who Nelson Mandela has been in South Africa.  (Note: The book has many disturbing images that I would want you to know about if you were going to read it.  It is difficult, but very good.)
About the same time I read This Beautiful Mess by Rick McKinley.  It was as I read this book that I was certain we had a son in Ethiopia.  I don't know quite how that happened, but God made it really clear to me during this time.  Nikki was already sure of this and had been praying about it, but I was finally on board with her.
Since that time, many of you lived my journey in real time with me.  You were there as Durant came home, KVI began, our family expanded to seven, and now this new journey with Eyes That See.  Thanks for all of your support over the years.  I cannot wait to see what is next.
If you are readers, I will be recommending some books that have helped me along the way.  Now for Nikki's journey...

The Beginnings...

For the past few years my friends have made fun of me for my lack of myspace/facebook/blog use. I'm a bit of a caveman on all of this, but I realize now that we are in the eastern timezone it's time I figure out a new way to stay in contact with everyone. As we begin Eyes That See, Nikki and I will update this blog regularly about what is going on within this ministry. Thanks for heading down this road with us. May God open all of eyes to see His Kingdom!