We spent most of the day at home without using power, taking very quick and cold showers, eating a simple meal of rice and beans with our hands, resting, and talking and praying for the world.  Small but meaningful ways for us to mark this day as special.  We set this day aside to remember what Africa was like many days and to remember that the luxuries and excess in America is not normal for the majority world.  We set aside the time to pray and remember together as a family because we too often forget that this momentary reality is but a small slice of the world’s experience. And we refuse to forget.  We also got news this past week that a good friend’s wife is sick and we pleaded with God to heal her and show Himself powerful in our lives and the lives of our dear friends on a small island a world away from here.
It turns out it was a timely day as we also spent our family meeting talking about 20 children and others that will not celebrate Christmas with their earthly families, parents who are mourning, and a community and nation wounded by evil. Jason and I thought about how we would talk through this with our girls in ways that help them understand not just the wonderful parts of this world but the pain and suffering and how God is in that too without causing them to fear the world we live in.  They experienced it first-hand in Africa with disease and sickness and poverty but somehow in America it can feel more removed.  But that is not true, not on Friday, and not daily as people around us suffer in silence.  We discussed the brokenness in the world and God’s plan for redemption.   We all cried looking at a picture of a little girl named Emily who loved to do crafts and help people but passed away at the hand of a gunman Friday.  We sat in the twinkling lights of our Christmas tree and I could not stop thinking about how there are already wrapped gifts under trees with names of little children that will be buried this week.  I cannot imagine the pain, trauma  and suffering of that and we agreed that we have no easy, simple, rote answers for this nor should we seek them.  But we prayed for the families and all those affected.  And we asked God to help us trust that even when terrible things happen He is in control; in Africa and America and everywhere in between.

My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.  They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.  As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. John 15:15-18

May those who mourn be comforted and may those who are sick be healed and may we all have perspective of the rich and abundant blessings in our life today,