Mouths of Babes

Cherry LipsPeople love to be outraged. The public loves a scandal, and individuals are always looking for opportunities to be offended. As a general populace, we live for rallying behind causes, speaking our disgust of the latest societal indignation at every turn and posting impassioned commentary on social media whenever possible.

But how many people turn their words into action? Are we an impassioned people for nothing more than the sake of our own amusement? Is it simply entertaining to discuss the latest humanitarian crisis or political affront? How many of us are legitimately invested in putting action to our outrage?

In an effort to be a woman of action – a woman who seeks to genuinely make an impact in the areas where my heart is stirred – I have recently gotten involved with a local organization that aids refugees in our city with learning English, navigating the citizenship process, and ultimately finding sustainable jobs by which they can support their families.

Over the past couple of months, I have developed a welcome packet for refugees in our city, outlining a number of 1-12 week training programs that equip graduates with various nationally recognized certificates that will allow them to qualify for different jobs in our city. Some careers included are more technical and some are more service-oriented, but regardless of the job category, I have ensured that I outlined not only the time requirement but also the cost of the program as well as the anticipated annual income of each of the career paths listed.

The director of the organization, a 30-something named Justin, reached out to me a couple of weeks ago and invited me over for dinner with his wife and two children. “You’ve done so much work for our organization,” he told me, “But I’ve never even met you in person! Please come over for dinner as our way of thanking you. Our family would love to get to know you.”

So I went. Justin’s wife made a delicious sweet potato and black bean chili (seriously, one of the most delicious things I’ve ever tasted), and after a fun dinner of getting to know each other, we moved into the living room where Justin and his wife started telling me some of the amazing success stories from their organization’s efforts this year. While his parents talked, four-year-old Josiah (the elder of Justin’s two sons) climbed up into my lap on the couch. Surprised but pleased, I stroked his soft, baby-fine hair while I listened to his parents.

In the middle of one of his dad’s stories, Josiah suddenly crawled out of my lap, turned around to face me, and interrupted his dad mid-sentence.

“Do you got a lie?” The four-year-old was looking directly at me, brow furrowed.

“Excuse me, what?” I wasn’t quite sure what he was asking or how to respond to his sudden question.

“Do you GOT a LIE?” Josiah asked with emphasis, putting his tiny hands on either side of my face to look deeply into my eyes.

Slightly concerned, I glanced at his dad, and Justin translated for me. “He’s asking you if you’re believing a lie.”

“Oh. No. I don’t think I’m believing any lies, Josiah.” I directed my answer to the young boy. “What lie to you think I’m believing?”

At this point, Josiah had lost interest, turning away from me to play with a blue light saber he found on the living room floor. Between swishing noises he made with his mouth, Josiah responded to my question in his high-pitched voice, “That God won’t provide.”

My eyes widened in shock. What kind of four-year-old makes that kind of comment?!

Justin, less shocked than I was at his son’s declaration, prodded him further. “What does Aurora not think God will provide for her?”

Josiah continued running around the living room, waving his light saber around and making accompanying sword-fighting noises with his pursed lips. He didn’t even look up when his tiny voice spoke the words of truth: “A husband.”

I nearly fell off the couch. My eyes bugged out, staring at Josiah and then his dad. Justin got up from his chair, went to a bookshelf and picked up a small black notebook and a pen. He scribbled away in his notebook, detailing yet another story to tell Josiah when his son got older.

As Justin bent over this journal of sorts, he asked his son another question. “And why is that a lie, Josiah?”

Josiah looked up at me this time when he answered. “Because He will.”

Goosebumps raced up and down my arms. Trying to take it all in, I glanced at Josiah’s mom; then back at Justin when he directed his next question to me. “Do you receive that, Aurora? Do you believe God will provide you with a husband?”

“I do,” I told him, and the words echoed in my mind like a wedding vow; a foreshadowing of things to come; of something spoken and promised and sealed.

In that moment, the lights went out. I looked around, wondering what in the world was happening now, but by the moonlight I spotted Josiah in the kitchen by the light switch. His mom asked him, “Josiah, why are you turning out the lights?”

“Because it’s time to anoint her.”

I gave up on being shocked. This child was other-wordly.

Justin just chucked. Apparently this was normal behavior for his son. “Okay, get the oil.” And then, to me, “Are you okay with this?” I just nodded.

So Josiah reappeared in the living room with a small glass bowl of oil while his mom lit some candles around the room. Josiah handed me his blue light saber, now lit up in the blackness, and he told me it could be my own personal candle while he prayed for me.

Josiah silently dipped his thumb in the oil, spread the oil in a horizontal line across my forehead, and – at his dad’s prompting – said a quick prayer that God would heal my heart and that I would trust God’s provision for a husband. And just like that, the light saber was snatched out of my hand, and the swooshing noises started again as Josiah decided it was time to play with his little brother, the two of them dancing around the carpet in a mock battle.

I was astonished by how quickly Josiah switched from solemn speaker of truth to rambunctious little boy. He is a special child, and although I am still processing all that took place that unexpected evening, I felt touched to have gotten a glimpse of the Holy Spirit’s working in that young boy. His parents are doing what they can to step into the hurt and chaos of the refugee crisis, and Josiah himself is, in his own way, also doing what he can – in ways he may not even understand yet – to bring hope and healing.

“O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger. When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?” -Psalm 8

Authentically Aurora

Sweet Potato Black Bean Chili Recipe

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Anointing: Accepting Your Calling

Passion 2016

Unique opportunities tend to come when least expected. We never know when a proverbial door will be opened, and often, the door that opens is one we didn’t even know existed. I used to be somewhat cautious, but in recent years, I have learned to take risks, step out of my comfort zone and embrace the thrill of the unknown. When a unique experience is presented to me, I now tend to seize the opportunity, embark on an adventure and see what unfolds. I’m rarely disappointed.

The week of Christmas, I received a rather peculiar email. Some girl named Kelly – a girl I don’t know – sent an email blast to a listserv I am apparently still on from a church I used to attend five years ago. The email was an invitation to be a part of the Passion 2016 Choir. According to the email, Kelly’s friend was involved in leading the Passion Choir, and they needed more volunteers to sing.

For anyone not familiar with Passion, it is a three day Christian conference for young adults ages 18-25. It’s a huge event, hosting top Christian bands like David Crowder and Hillsong United, as well as world renowned speakers and theologians like John Piper and Ravi Zacharias. This year, the event attracted 40,000 students and was held at three different stadiums across two different cities in the US.

I was off work for the holidays and didn’t have plans January 2-4, so I emailed the director of the Passion Choir at the email address provided by Kelly. When the director, Alisa, replied to me, she said that choir volunteers were by referral only, so she asked who referred me. I gave her Kelly’s name, and Alisa immediately sent me a private link to an online application.

A week later, I entered our city’s basketball arena for a five hour rehearsal with about 70 other talented Christian vocalists, and it was like being back in All-State Choir. Singing with the best – more than that, talented vocalists with a passion and inner fire – is otherworldly. It’s like a glimpse of heaven on earth. Possibly even more fun than singing with the Passion Choir, though, was getting to be a part of the choir’s community group.

Alisa led us in bible studies and reflection times between rehearsals and performance sessions, and because most vocalists are dreamers and artsy types, the focus of our special behind-the-scenes study was on discovering our passions and living out our dreams. Only, Alisa didn’t take the study the direction I expected. I expected a cliché pep talk about how I’m special and blah blah blah. But Alisa lovingly challenged our individual visions of what our futures could or should be like.

She started by reading Ephesians 4:7-16 and explaining that there is a supernatural gifting from God within each of us. But God gives the gifts. God chooses the gifts. There are good works predestined for me to do (Eph. 2:10), but good works aren’t up for grabs. If someone else is living out my dream or doing what I believe I have been uniquely created to do, I need to kill the jealousy inside of me. If someone else was given a certain role, he or she was assigned it in eternity past. Callings are not about us; they are a gift from God, and He chooses our gifts and callings!

Alisa went on to encourage us to know, accept and use our unique giftings for God’s glory. It’s God’s job to choose the gifts and callings; it’s my job to walk in the opportunities given to me. To identify our callings, Alisa wisely suggested we consider: What have I suffered? So often our misery becomes our ministry. What are my passions? What talents has my community affirmed in me?

Ultimately, Alisa reminded us that there is a race marked out for each of us to run (Heb. 12:1-3). It’s God’s role to mark out my race; He sets the path. Though our culture would tell us otherwise, we don’t create our dreams; they are given to us. God wove them into the fabric of our being when He knit us together in our mothers’ wombs (Ps. 139).

My responsibility is not to choose my anointing. My responsibility is to run with perseverance the race marked out for me, for my good and God’s glory!

Authentically Aurora