Saturday, October 4, 2014

A Letter to My Thirteen

Dear Alek, Nathan, Dimon, Aleyna, Joyce, Katie, Jaques, Silas, Nevin, Mawin, Chen, Maya, and Serena,

Serena's Rendition of Our Family Portrait
Kylie, McKaylah, and My Parents Included :)
It's been over a month since I first met you, since you first stepped into my world. I knew about many of you before I met you. I loved you from the get go. I can't really explain it. All I know is somehow, Jesus intentionally mapped out our lives to intersect for this short season, and even though we have our different points of view and even when you think the rules are crazy, know that we love you. We REALLY love you.

I write in this blog partly for your parents and for community members. Gives them a chance to peer into our world and meet us here. I also write this for YOU, hoping that someday, maybe years from now, you'll come back to these pages and relive the memories of this special season in all of our lives.

Remember that time that my parents came and joined us for awhile? I know I'm a little biased, but they're pretty special people, aren't they? They sure loved you and enjoyed you! I was so proud of how you welcomed them in and answered their questions, gave them a hug before they left. They will continue to love you and pray for you, even miles away. That's how they are. Much like Jesus. They also know what sacrificial love looks like as they scrubbed our kitchen floor and browned our hamburger and fixed running toilets. They served . . . because they love. Love is servant hearted, isn't it?

Remember that one time that I had you sit down for devotions and had you make sheep out of homemade play dough, straws, marshmallows, and cotton balls? You kinda thought I was crazy, didn't you? But you played along pretty well. Thanks. ;) What you didn't know is that I had NO IDEA what to do for devotions a few hours before, and I was SO TIRED that day, but this idea popped into my head. You rolled with it. Mawin googled sheep so Maya could learn what they looked like. Dimon made a shaved sheep. Jaques, Mawin, and Alek drew sheep instead of forming them, but hey . . . creativity.

I asked you what would happen if someone came in with a gun and asked if they should kill you or your little sheep that you created. Alek, you kinda broke up my analogy because you said that person should kill you instead of your sheep. Kuddos for being sacrificial. ;) I think the others of you were much more apt to let the killer take out the sheep. You are all so much bigger and smarter and more talented than those tiny creatures, and you had created them . . . not the other way around. It's a ludicrous thought almost to think anyone would want to take the time to destroy your sheep.

And then I read to you this verse reverberating in my heart. John 10:11. Remember it?

"I am the good Shepherd. The good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep."  

If Jesus, the Creator God, created us and considers us like sheep, why would the all-powerful, all-marvelous, all-perfect Creator give up His life for us? People who forget to thank Him or believe in Him or follow Him or love Him? We're so quick to go in the opposite direction of God and disobey Him (sin). We're SO SMALL compared to who He is.

Chen Won the Sheep Creating Contest
But the absolutely wild truth of it all is that Jesus laid down His life . . . for YOU, Katie, Joyce, Aleyna, Dimon, Maya, Serena, Chen, Silas, Mawin, Jaques, Nathan, Nevin, Alek. He continues to stick up for you, to fight for you in the thick of your battles. He compares us to sheep, and the comparison is pretty solid. We're often pretty helpless, and when we think we know what's best, we totally miss it. Even though we're like sheep, He values us as if we were His highest treasure. He loves you all. So much. He is servant hearted and sacrificial towards you.

The most beautiful thing though is that He doesn't just lay down His life without purpose. He lays down His life for us so that He might save us from all of our heart-darkness that keeps us from Him, from healing, from relationship.

Someone has to pay the price for our disobedience to God. The guilty always pay. Jesus did that in place of us on the cross. All He asks of you is that you accept His death and His coming to life again on the third day as a free gift of salvation (you lean on Him fully to save), and you turn from sin and turn toward God as Master and Leader of your life. Oh guys, He is so willing to pour out His love and healing on your life. His arms are open. We just have to say "YES!"

It's an important decision. One that each one of you will have to make if you haven't already. Will you say Yes to Him?

There will be times when you leave this dorm, and you won't know which way is up and which way is down. Maybe you feel like this now.

Know that the Shepherd loves you, that He will meet you right where you are at with the fullness of His love. He can take your honesty, the rawness of your heart. He created you. He gets you. He will also take care of you and wash you clean if you let Him.

I'm praying for you guys. You are dear to my heart. I know many of your stories are so far from over. Several of you will change dramatically within the next five years. You have so much ahead of you.

Ibrahim and I love you . . . we really do. We believe in you. We care for you, far more than you imagine.


PS On a different note, so proud of you girls for your first win against Glasgow on Tuesday! It was the best sound to hear your screams in the halls. :) Way to go, Lady Lions!

PPS Here's a copy of the letter my dad wrote to you before he and my mom left. You are so loved . . . by many.

Letter from Danae's Dad: 10/1/14