Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Shabbat Shalom

Dear Family,

We are sorry that it has taken us so long to write again. Many of you have been praying fervently for us and we really appreciate it. We write this time from the United States. The Lord has seen fit to bring us to the States for a few weeks. There are many things that we believe He wants to do with us here, but we also need to rest. Please pray that the Lord would use us mightily in our time here, but also that we would be able to get some much needed rest. Callie is having a wonderful time showing off her pregnant belly to her family and eating some of the food she has missed since moving to Israel. Israel has wonderful food, but there is no substitute to the food you grew up with. We made the long drive from North Carolina to Ohio with little difficulty. Please pray that the Lord would continue to protect us and bless us as we travel.

We leave Israel in a very interesting time in it's history. Since the "peace process" began with the Palestinians, I don't believe there has been such as time of flux as there is right now. In the past, the process has been either moving in one direction or another. Now, it seems like Israel is teetering on the edge of something big. From week to week, something happens that seems to tip it one direction, and then something else will happen that will tip it the other direction. No one really knows which way it will go, and it seems like the world is completely preoccupied with another Middle Eastern country. Iran has completely refused the deal the West was proposing, essentially saying that they will do what ever they want. Israel will soon be in the unbelievable place of deciding whether to preemptively strike Iran or not. This is a the situation we left, and we are praying fervently for our nation and our people. Please pray that the Lord would cover this situation and bring His Will to bear on it.

The Lord used the last few weeks of work before our trip to the US to speak to some encouragement into my heart about life in Israel. The bible is full of scriptures commanding us to "build homes and plant vineyards," or to "rebuild the ancient ruins." As an architect in training, I've been blessed to be part of this prophetic fulfillment in a literal way. Currently, our office is working on a project in the old city just across from the Wailing Wall. I've been part of the design process since Devin and I were engaged. More than a year and a half later, I would have expected this project to begin construction, so one day I casually asked my boss how much longer he thought it would be before we'd break ground. His almost sarcastic laugh spoke more clearly than if he had simply said, "Not any time soon!" He then explained that we needed to get an "OK" from the clients, the Old City Architect, the archeologist, the Temple Mount Rabbis, and the Municipality before we could move ahead. This particular project has been redesigned once already because we couldn't achieve unanimous agreement, so the time line remains undefined.

Juxtapose this conversation with one we had earlier in the week. The same boss brought in a beautiful poster of Jerusalem from the late 1930's. It was an ariel view of the YMCA, the King David Hotel, and the surrounding olive orchards that were present in Israel's early days. My small group of colleagues and I sat together at lunch gazing at this poster, amazed at how much this small nation has developed in such a short amount of time!

After the short conversation with my boss, I turned and looked at that poster and thought, "Lord, with so much work required to get things done here, how in the world did this city grow so fast?" Then I paused for a moment and realized how easy it is to become discouraged if we focus on the details of a problem with out realizing the bigger picture of the work the Lord is doing. He built Israel-Jerusalem- by His Spirit, even with all the headaches required to get a small project completed. He works out His will in our lives as individuals the same way. The Lord is doing something much greater than what we can see day by day. If we focus too much on our circumstances, without seeing it in the context of God's greater plan, discouragement can come in like a flood. I pray we could all lift our eyes up more often and see the Lord's greater plan at work all the time. Blessings!

In Yeshua,

Devin and Callie

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sweet Poem

My lovely friend, Lisa, sent me this sweet poem the other day. It was perfect for me, given how very much I've been in a daze of love for our little baby ever since our wonderful second trimester ultrasound.

“Ultrasound” by A.E. Stallings

What butterfly—
Brain, soul, or both—
Unfurls here, pallid
As a moth?

(Listen, here’s
Another ticker,
Counting under
Mine, and quicker.)

In this cave
What flickers fall,
On the wall?

Spine like beads
Strung on a wire,
Of our desire,

Moon-face where
Two shadows rhyme,
Two moving hands
That tell the time.

I am the room
The future owns,
The darkness where
It grows its bones.

(From 32 Poems.)

Found here.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Shabbat Shalom

Dear Family,

It seems like winter has finally arrived here in Israel. For the past few weeks, we have been experiencing a heat wave unlike any I have ever seen here in October. The Lord was gracious to cause this heat to break and the rain to begin. Please continue to lift to the Lord the desperate place Israel is in regards to water. The Sea of Galilee (Israel's main source of water) needs to go up about three meters to become full again. It would be a miracle to see the five years of drought reversed in one winter, but all of us here are praying with hope. Israel also continues to feel the threat of a possible nuclear Iran. "Talks" continue with no hope in sight, and it seems as though governments are beginning to resign themselves to having a nuclear Iran. There is no telling just how long Israel is going to be able to wait before taking action; and that is something that no one wants to even think about. Please pray that the Lord would intervene and soon!

Callie and I are in the final few weeks before we head back to the States for a visit. It has been a very interesting, yet wonderful time here in Israel. Building a life is one thing, but building a life in Israel is a completely different thing. Callie and I have been challenged by the reality of life in Israel together. The Lord's grace has been in it all and I see how he is bringing us closer together, so that we might reflect His glory in this nation. Please pray that the Lord would continue to show us how and where He wants us to build here. There are many things we could throw ourselves into, but we need the wisdom to know how we should devote our time. The baby is healthy and kicking up a storm lately. We can already tell he will be a mover and shaker for the Lord! Please pray that the Lord would bless our little son's development.

How many of us are living out our believing lives as if we are ok with just sliding into Heaven? We are saved by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of our testimony, but is that where we put things on cruise control? Callie and I have been going to a bible study since we got back to Israel in March. We have been going over the Book of Revelation and it has really been great. One of the things that is thematic in this amazing book is the idea of overcoming. In the letters to the seven congregations, Yeshua talks about what will be given to the over-comers. This idea of an over-comer gives me the picture of mountain climber in a snow storm who continues to climb until he reaches the top. The climber won't let anything get in the way of reaching the goal. How many of us, if we were climbing that mountain, would find a nice cave to sit in hopes that the storm would blow over? At least, we could say we started the journey and got fairly high, right? Yeshua is looking for those would will have the heart of the over-comer. We don't have the ability to overcome the world ourselves, and that is why He took it upon Himself to do it. The simple truth that He overcame the world takes away all of our lame excuses about feeling inadequate or too weak for the task. We just need to have the heart of the over-comer in us and rely on His adequacy to carry us until the end. To me, it will never be enough to simply "get by" in the kingdom of heaven. If our Lord is willing to give us more abundantly than we can even ask or think, why wouldn't we give our heart, soul, and strength to His purpose? May the Lord infuse us all with the desire to truly be over-comers for His kingdom. Blessings!

In Yeshua,

Devin and Callie