Stretch Marks

A few weeks ago an older Costa Rican woman who I hardly know came to our house. I walked downstairs after feeding Selah to put on some coffee and some bread for this lady, whom we will just call “Natalie”. I am always trying to bless this woman and show her Jesus. So when I came downstairs, I was a completely caught off guard by her comment. And I quote, “Cindy (yes, Cindy not Sidney)… You still look like you did when you were pregnant. Your stomach is still out and you walk like a pregnant lady.” (Insert very fake smile here as my response….. I mean really…. what do you say back to a thing like that?! I of course refrained from all of the rude or sarcastic responses I was dying to say).

As I thought more about what Natalie said to me, I felt the Lord speak to my heart. “You are a vessel of my creation. We have co-created together and you have given love to an eternal being.” A vessel for the Lord. I carried something that He knit together inside of me. I created life with God!

Yes, bearing a life leaves stretch marks. Us women tend to hate those things. But why?! They are a badge of honor. What you cannot see from these stretch marks are the much larger stretch marks on my heart…. my stretched marked heart. My heart after meeting Selah has never been the same. It continues to stretch. It continues to have a greater capacity for love…. greater than I ever could have know.

My heart has stretched. It has a greater capacity for compassion and pain of others. As I read about miscarriages, infertility, child refugees drowning and a parent surviving to remember it, orphans, parents who lose a child, my girls who were raped and have a child they love but never wanted, abuse; my heart breaks in a new and much deeper way than ever before.

My heart has stretched. It has a much greater capacity for joy and for love. I can be brought to tears so quickly now! I can love more difficult people because I know that they are someone’s baby… that they are God’s baby… and I somehow have a new understanding (although very inadequate) of what that means to Him.

There are things in life that mark us forever. Sometimes you see those marks- sometimes they’re even stretch marks. Lord, let us cherish these marks- the blessing of life- the blessing of co-creating with you. Sometimes those marks are on the heart. Sometimes they are beautiful- like the ones on my heart that I bare after meeting my Selah Grace. Sometimes they are painful- like the ones I also bear after seeing people I love and work with die after a life of injustice- sometimes those also appear as wrinkles on the face. Each stretch mark on our hearts; both the sweet and the sour, mark (as if a tattoo) milestones in our relationship with the Lord. They are monuments. They are pillars of remembrance. We are living! We are loving and hurting- sharing two very strong emotions in the Lord’s heart as well.

I am so thankful for those stretch marks. I am eternally thankful for that stretch marked heart.

mommy & Selah 3 monthes

Coffee for Jesus

Coffee.

coffee pic for blog

Who would have thought that such a simple thing could have such a deep impact. (Not to mention the incredible benefit of a missionary mom to a two month old- caffeine, please and thank you)!

In Costa Rica, coffee means community. It’s not simply a ‘drink’, it’s an invitation, intimate time, community, vulnerability, an ice breaker, refreshment. It has the potential to scream out to a world full of lost and hurting people that “I have time for you. I am here to listen. I hear you, I hear you, I see you.” In a world so busy, that we don’t even have time to hear ourselves things- it bids us ‘come an sit. come and listen’.

Last night as I cleaned up the kitchen at 11pm, I realized that in the last 48 hours alone we had served 24 people coffee around our table. As we sat and studying the bible together, prayed with one another, had times of discipleship, or had an intense conversation with people in desperate situations; coffee provided the excuse to draw near to Christ’s feet; to learn up against His chest and hear his heartbeat.

The ministry we have worked with and led for the past almost 4 years all started because of coffee. A few people with no idea how to reach the prostituted and trafficked victims on a street corner used coffee.. a simple cup of coffee. Who knew that through that lives would be radically transformed. We offer a drink, and Christ comes in and offers so that we may never thirst again.

Some of my favorite memories have been in our living room during ministry time over coffee when the presence of the Lord feel so tangibly that you could taste his as strong as that dark, hot drink.

Just yesterday a group of women gathered in our living room to pray and seek the Lord. As we sat there, we were blessed with the sound of guys singing loudly in Carlos’s studio room. They were the voices of men who are now in drug rehabilitation. Carlos is working with them to record a worship CD. They felt blessed that I would serve them in my home…. I felt blessed to have hearts in this house who recognized their own desperation & brokeness… who are painfully aware that their only hope is Jesus… and in that brokeness received the revelation that really there is only one thing that matter….. these guys whose only desire is to serve the Lord. “We just want to serve God”.

I was brought to tears last night as I washed those last few coffee cups.

There was lipstick on many of the rims of the cups of a ladies whose tears diluted their dark, black coffee. Tears that made the darkness a little lighter- when they were finally at a safe place and could be released. So many hearts were shared over those cups of coffee- intimate secrets and suffering.

I imagine Jesus in this world today. A world who wants to see big things- big numbers- business- celebrity pastors- who places value based on numbers. But I imagine Jesus sitting and reaching out to one person at a time, right where they’re at, over a cup of coffee. I don’t see him working hard to get famous or doing huge things to get attention, but I see Him in those intimate moments having enough time to sit and fill us up.