Tuesday, March 29, 2011

I Am That Woman

She was a sinful woman, a prostitute, living a life dedicated to giving pleasure to sinful men.  Ashamed, empty, desperately lonely, rejected by all except when they wanted something from her...unloved except for those few fleeting moments of physical passion as she offered herself in exchange for a living. 

Used by men, she in turn used them to serve her own needs and purposes.  It was an awful way to live and she knew it.

She'd heard about Jesus, this man who claimed to be the Son of God, the Messiah.  She'd heard about his kindness and compassion, how he mercifully healed the weak, the sick, the lame, the blind.  She knew that she was in need of healing just as much as those poor creatures, she who was beautiful on the outside, but crippled within.  She'd heard that he preached forgiveness of sins and she longed to see him, to hear his voice, to receive healing for her own damaged, sinful heart.

One day she heard that Jesus was at Simon's house and her heart dared to leap for joy.  He was so near.  She frantically searched her house for something she could give and found a jar of expensive perfume.  Fully expecting to be rejected, she went to Simon's house anyway, compelled to be in Jesus' presence. 

She didn't know if she could even come near to Jesus, but she had to try.  There were many people in Simon's house, she was not the only one who desired to be with him.  She slowly crept forward, suddenly timid and shy.  Her reputation as a prostitute, however, kept those around her from touching her, letting her edge ever nearer to Jesus.  She found herself right behind him as he reclined at the table sharing the meal Simon had provided. 

As she heard his voice, she became overcome with emotion.  She began to weep, filled with awe at his utter perfection and deep, deep sorrow over her sin.  Her tears coursed down her cheeks and began to fall on Jesus' feet.  Having no towel, she began wiping the wetness from his feet with her hair, kissing them with tender care.  She gave no thought to what those around her were thinking, she only gave herself to Jesus in the only way she knew how, through intimate contact with Him.  Her only thought was towards Jesus as the Son of God, the Messiah, the Holy One, the One who could fill her empty, shallow life with love and life and forgiveness.

She took the alabaster bottle and splashed the perfume liberally over Jesus' feet and once again lovingly wiped them with her hair.  She gave no thought to the expense of the perfume, it was as nothing compared to the priceless opportunity she had to serve Jesus in this way.

Then Jesus spoke.  His words rebuked Simon the Pharisee for not having washed His feet or treated Him with the respect He was due.  And then his words forgave her sins, out loud, in front of everyone.  Then he turned to her and repeated, "Your sins are forgiven.  Your faith has saved you; go in peace." 

She turned to go and stumbled out of Simon's house, stunned by what had just happened.  She had expected to be thrown out of Simon's house and knew that would have been what she deserved.  But not only had Jesus accepted her into his presence and accepted her offering, he had forgiven her sins as well.  There was a fullness inside in place of emptiness, love instead of hate, peace instead of pain, joy instead of sadness, healing instead of hurt...hope instead of despair.  And Jesus was right, her heart overflowed with love because she had been forgiven much. 

And today I see that I am that woman.  Not a prostitute in the literal sense of the word, but haven't I prostituted myself to sin and the desires of my flesh?   Haven't I offered my body for ungodly pleasures, trying to find fulfillment in food or fleeting happiness, worshipping myself and my desires instead of God, living to please others instead of Jesus and all the time spiraling down into a life of shame, self-contempt, depression and loneliness, desperate to hide my sin and shame, feeling unloved, rejected and alone? 

There came a point when Jesus came near and he was the only way out.  Jesus welcomed me into his presence, let me come near and he let my tears wash over his feet, even though I was anything but worthy.  He let me pour myself out, a costly perfume that he paid for with his own life and he let me fall, completely spent, at his feet because he knew that's where I needed to be. 

And then he said to me, just like the woman that was healed by merely touching His robe, that my faith has saved me, that my sins are forgiven and that I am released to go with his peace in my heart.  Therefore, since I have been justified through faith, I have peace with God through my Lord Jesus Christ, through whom I have gained access by faith into this grace in which I now stand. Romans 5:1-2 (personalized).

Is it any wonder that my heart overflows with gratitude and joy that words can hardly express?  Is it any wonder that my life has changed completely?  Is it any wonder that his love for me overflows to everyone around me?  I can do nothing less than live and love for him because I know, I know, how much I have been forgiven. 

Luke 7:36-50

When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table.  A woman in that town who lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume.  As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.

When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.”

Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.”

“Tell me, teacher,” he said.

“Two people owed money to a certain moneylender. One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty.  Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”

Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven.”

“You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.

Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet.  You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet.  Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.”

Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.”

The other guests began to say among themselves, “Who is this who even forgives sins?”

Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

Sunday, March 27, 2011

What Happened to Spring?!

It turned cold again today, so I'm comforting myself with these pictures from a warmer day last week when we took a walk...I loved these pictures of the Jkaile, Jojo and Gracia...I don't know where Micah was, probably off playing somewhere else...

Friday, March 18, 2011

To change or not to change...

Okay, I'm experimenting with changes to the look again...I would mess with it some more, but I need to go attend to the kiddos...I think I'll leave this one up for a while and see what I think...


A few pictures of spring from around campus...

forsythia in all its glory...

fresh growth on the rosebushes...

buds on the trees...

miniature blooms underfoot...

graceful green next to blossoms white...

breathtaking beauty...

pretty girls and tulip trees...

if God gave us such beauty on earth, imagine what the 
new heaven and new earth will be like! 

  LORD, our Lord,
      how majestic is your name 

             in all the earth!
          You have set your glory
              in the heavens.Ps 8:1

Earrings for Gracia

Most girls in Latin America get their ears pierced as infants.  That is, in fact, many times how one is able to determine the gender of a baby, by whether said baby has pierced ears or not.  When Gracia was born here in the U.S. I don't think we made a conscious decision not to get her ears pierced, but we just didn't.  Later, I wished that I had, but then I realized that getting her ears pierced would be a special event when she was a little older.

Gracia and I have talked off and on about it, but she never had much interest until this last Monday when she came to me in her sweet, shy way and whispered in my ear that she really did want to get her ears pierced now.

So off we went to Claire's within the hour before she changed her mind! Micah and Jojo heard we were headed to the mall and wanted to go with us, but we really shouldn't have taken them along because they were so not impressed with all those girly things in the mall and pestered us with groans and wails and when-are-we-leaving noises.  Well, I guess they did provide some important moral support at the actual moment of the ear piercing, so that was something.  And they were very enthralled with these little makeup cases that you push a button and it slowly unfolds to reveal the inner workings, but basically they made fun of everything there.  I'm glad they are normal, healthy boys. 

But anyway, we had to wait a while because there was another lady there getting her 2 month old? baby's ear pierced and when I heard that baby cry over her pierced ears, I was kind of glad I didn't get Gracia's ears pierced at that age...I think it would have broken my heart to hear her cry like that knowing I'd inflicted that pain on her! 

Gracia was very brave, however, even though she was a little concerned after hearing that baby squall!  They couldn't do both ears at once since there was only one employee there and I was a little worried she wouldn't want to go through with the second one, but Gracia did good!  One tear escaped her eye and then she was okay.  And the boys cheered her on.

So that's how Gracia got her ears pierced and it has gone down in the Aguirre family history books as the day Gracia got earrings. She's already eyeing my earring collection and claiming some for her own. 

I'm so proud of my girl!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Abandoning Yourself to Holiness

During the quieter moments of this roller coaster ride, I've been pondering the following thoughts from Larry Crabb's The PAPA Prayer... 

What does it mean to abandon yourself to holiness?  ...when we come to God...wanting to see where we're wrong in the way we relate more than we want someone else to admit how they're wrong in the way they relate to us...including God.  But it goes further.  We're abandoning ourselves to holiness when we come to God wanting not only to see where we're wrong but also to claim the privilege of letting others experience how God relates to them by the way we relate to them....(in the Bible) we're being told to abandon ourselves to holiness, to share in the way God relates, with radical other-centeredness, with terrible sacrifice, with humble love...

But we'll never even come close to God's example of love until we clearly understand that sin is relational...relational sin is anything we do for the primary purpose of getting something for ourselves...that means that the primary thought behind everything we do is to trust Him with our deepest needs and longings, to bring Him pleasure by putting all our eggs in His basket, to fix our hope for everything we hold dear on who He is and what He is doing and what He will yet do...

...when you abandon yourself to holiness, you think more of how you fall short of God's holy way of relating than of how others fail you or how badly you you feel or how difficult your life may be...but your focus on your own failure does not make you hate yourself, not when you're relating to your Papa...it makes you hate your sin, not yourself...and this focus doesn't leave you discouraged and feeling heavy.  Broken, yes.  Despairing, no.  You know that purging lights up the path of holiness, the road paved by grace that leads into God's presence, into Papa's lap...

Roller Coaster Ride

I fell out of our van the other day, literally.  Miguel had had the van in the shop for a couple of days and then I needed to drive it somewhere...I stopped, opened the door and then I just stepped out into thin air!  I felt pretty stupid...I even turned and looked at the van wondering why in the world I had expected a step to be where there obviously was not one?!  I just chalked it up to having gotten used to driving the Explorer and went about my day.

A few hours later, we were at home and Miguel says, "Oh, I forgot to tell you...I took the running boards off the van when it was in the shop." It took me a couple of minutes to process that comment and then I was like, "It was YOU!!!!!" It made me feel a little better to notice that Miguel himself fell out of the van the next day, lol. Revenge is sweet...

You can see the running boards in this picture that now
aren't there...apparently, I have always used
that lower step to get out of the van...

So yeah, having lots of fun these days getting ready for our next missionary adventure!  We are happy to say that we have decided on a mission agency and are applying to a mission agency called Pioneers.  Of all of the agencies that we considered and explored, we feel that it is the best fit for our new ministry in Puebla.  Pioneers has already agreed to take on our mission project, which was yet another open door for us.  We were able to turn in all of our application paperwork on time to register to attend an orientation with Pioneers on April 3-8.  They will review our application, meet with us and then we should know by the end of that week whether our membership application will be approved or not.  At this point, there have not been any red flags regarding our application, but it is always good not to assume things...we have our tickets bought and places for our kids to stay, so that's all taken care of.

Once we had that orientation scheduled, we did a big planning session to pin down some dates and figure out our next steps and discovered out that what we had kind of thought was 'out there' in the future was now upon us!  For one thing, we found out that we will need to move out of our house here at the Village before we go to the Pioneers orientation the first week of April...that sort of changed a few things, but it is all working out for the best.  We have a good place to stay after we move out of the Village, so that's a blessing. 

It took me about half an hour to process that paradigm shift and then I was off and running with the new plan...we have shelved homeschooling for the time being and are focusing on ministry priorities for now, such as email lists and supporter communication and the packing/sorting/storing of the ever-present stuff.  I wish we didn't have to have all that stuff, but we do and it has to be sorted, sigh.  We are basically planning only to take what will fit in whatever vehicle we drive to Mexico in (which may or may not be our van), so that really limits what we can take...we may also be able to either ship or have someone else take some things. 

So lots to do and lots to think about!  My head has been spinning for a couple of weeks, but in a good way...we're so excited about this new ministry.  Today we met with yet another potential supporter who have committed to being monthly financial partners as well as prayer supporters and we have just been so blessed to have people like that on our team.  Times like that, Miguel and I just pause and gift thanks to God for His blessings.

I kinda feel like I'm on a roller coaster, hair blowing back in the wind, heart pounding, enjoying the ride! 

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Missions Conference

We just got back yesterday from attending a missions conference at my Mom's sending church over in Tulsa. I'd forgotten that my family has such celebrity status over there in that church, we were treated like royalty! We were only going to attend, but they included us as featured missionaries which was rather unexpected. It was good to reconnect with people that know my family and hear from the various other missionaries that attended, including my Mom.  Todd Ahrend from The Traveling Team was the main speaker on Sunday for both services, what an incredible speaker! 

The kids weren't too sure about the conference at first, but they were hooked the first night when some folks from the Voice of the Martyrs spoke and then the kids had the opportunity to try to smuggle Bibles through an elaborate darkened tunnel. The church even provided an EMT to stand by in case any of the kids got too stressed out because apparently it was quite intense! My kids loved it though and then couldn't wait to go back...they weren't disappointed with the other events like learning about other cultures, trying some exotic foods and worshipping God under an Angolan hut.

Miguel and I were asked to teach the 1st and 2nd grade Sunday school class...they weren't sure if they could get a missionary to speak in their class, so they were thrilled to have us there. We requisitioned some of Mom's tribal stuff and Miguel put some pictures together, so we had a decent presentation and wowed them with monkey teeth and Yanomamo arrows (10 feet long) and the blowgun and darts (Miguel shot a picture of a tapir we projected onto the wall). I did the talking and we pretended like Miguel didn't speak English so they had the chance to experience a language barrier. I think it went well and we heard from several parents later how much it had impressed their children.

I had a bit of a cold when we went, but all that talking I did brought about the usual laryngitis I get when I talk too much. I mean, I usually DO talk to much anyway, but I always get laryngitis when I go on translation trips or have to talk constantly like at a conference, etc. Speaking to the kids for 45 minutes on Sunday morning was the final straw and I could barely speak the rest of the day and I had a lot more talking to do!

We stayed with a wonderful couple while we were there, an older couple who spent a few years on the mission field after their retirement.  They loved our kids and have a gift for hospitality.  They have a full basement that we stayed in and we were very comfortable there at their house, which made our time there so much easier.  They even introduced us to their neighbor who is a pastor from Venezuela!  Small world...

Overshadowing this event, however, was the fact that Papa John (my stepdad) had to be admitted to the hospital overnight because he had been having all the symptoms of a heart attack and therefore missed part of the conference.  It turned out not to be a heart attack, although it might be some sort of blockage, but it was a bit alarming and we were faced with Mom and John's mortality once again.  Not something that's all that fun to face, but necessary at their age (Mom turned 65 on Friday).  Papa John has an appointment with his regular doctor today, so we're waiting to see what results that might have. 

So a rather eventful week for us and we're enjoying a day of rest today...I was planning to do school, but that's kind of hard to do without a voice!   The kids aren't too disappointed, though...