A Little More about Immaculee

One of the things that really stands out to me in Immaculee’s story (in the book, Left to Tell) is how she found God as a refuge in the midst of the storm instead of choosing to question and rage against Him. One of my favorite images is when she and the other women who are hiding in that tiny bathroom put their Bibles on their heads when they hear their attackers coming. First of all, to know all that they carried away from their homes in the terror of the night was the clothes on their back and their Bible is especially meaningful. But then, to cling to it and hold it over their heads for protection…all they could do was hold up His Word, and hide under it. Immaculee says that the greatest tragedy for so many of the survivors of the Rwandan genocide is that they lost their faith, and because they could not believe anymore, they were left with absolutely nothing.

This is a crossroads we will all come to at some point; we either have already or we will. Do we have faith when the opposite of everything we believe God will do for us happens? When push comes to shove, do we believe He is good and trustworthy despite the situation we or our loved ones are in? In the small things, like getting sick at an inopportune time or missing an important appointment, do we say, “Why, God?” Will Jesus find faith on the earth when He returns, or will He find people demanding He come through on their requests? Will He find humble faith or will He find us relying on anything else that we can find for comfort, security, and solutions?
It’s so scary to live by faith in God and His Word. It just looks so dumb! It looks so childish, even superstitious. It feels like we haven’t progressed very far if we are surrendering everything to a God we can’t see, to a God who keeps allowing suffering when it is widespread belief that He is powerful enough to stop it. It looks wimpy or even lazy, to leave things in God’s hands and not fight to the death. We seem brainwashed when we say, “I will always love this God, no matter what He allows to come my way; His love is all I need.” It just doesn’t fit the culture these days to cling to a verse of Scripture that makes no sense to others but brings utter peace to our souls. Lord, give us a mature faith that blesses Your heart when You see it. You are worthy of it. Help us!
I think it is a gift when God allows us opportunities to choose this kind of faith.

Left to Tell by Immaculee Ilabagiza

Well, I just finished this book by Immaculee Ilabagiza. She is a young woman, actually about my age I guess, who miraculously survived the mass murder of the Tutsi people of Rwanda in 1994. Her story is difficult, but beautiful. I encourage you to read it, for many reasons. Understanding what happened in this holocaust is important, but on a spiritual level, there are things we need to learn from her about faith in suffering. Her story is a modern day example of how you can lose everything, and at that point be given a chance to understand more of the Bible and more of an intimacy with God than you ever would have in a land of safety and plenty.

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There were times in reading this book I was shaking with rage, as I learned more details than I could really bear to know. And that rage is really what this book was about; it was about how generations of hatred live on, with lies whispered into their ears, rumors of blame. There is so much need in Africa, and so the cycle begins: There is suffering for a multitude of reasons, then many of those in suffering are so mad that they learn to hate the people they think are responsible for their lack, then after years of the lies (or maybe its true, maybe certain people like their government are responsible for their suffering) they believe those people aren’t even people. And when we believe someone else isn’t an equal human being, we ourselves stop acting as decent human beings. As generations carry these grievances, all started by satan who lives for this confusion and hatred and slaughter, thousands of people have the capability to cross their front lawn to kill their neighbors–all in an effort to have more jobs or food or security or safety for themselves–and this is part of the story of how the Rwandan Holocaust happened.
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In my heart, (which as I said felt a lot of rage in reading this book) and in the hearts of those survivors and their children and their children who will walk the ground of Rwanda, or Germany, or even the United States,–who will continue to visit graves, who will still live in terror sometimes at the evil on the earth, who will possibly teach their children the same fear and self-reliance and sadness they themselves still suffer from–there must be a change. I pray for a healing, and this healing only–ONLY–comes through a personal encounter with Jesus and the truth of God’s Word. I have felt this so many times, and it is even more confirmed now, whatever we have to do to make a person safe, warm, fed, we need to do it, with the heart of God on our sleeve. We need to tuck them in covers and say this is Jesus with His arms around them, as Sweet Sleep does when they give beds to orphans. We need to rescue women who are numb and lost because of their current occupation of forced prostitution and like the International Justice Mission, give them spiritual mothers who can speak worth and promise into their lives again just like our mothers did. Damaged and broken people cause more damage and brokenness. They need Jesus, and in every blanket, every counseling session, every grain of rice, He can be clearly represented. World peace isn’t coming…Jesus is coming! Until He does, I want to know Him well, and trust He will make us vessels for others to also know Him well…know Him so well that “all of a sudden they are unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory” (J.M. McMillan/2 Cor. 4:16-18)
I pray for us to have these things Immaculee wrote about: Such a deep understanding of God’s personal relationship with us, deep enough to know all is well either in life or in death, deep enough to let go of this temporary life when the day comes. Such a deep understanding of Jesus’s words on the cross, “Father, forgive them, they don’t know what they are doing”, deep enough to face people who have done things worse than rabid animals would and just plead with God to bring them to their knees in repentance so they could be saved from His wrath.
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Souls are so fragile. We have to love.

Just a Plain Rainy Day

I love the rain and the fact that I didn’t have to go anywhere today! My day with the girls was pretty good. Yemi has been a little more screamy that usual, but she has just been tired I think. Selah did some great art work today and worked on her Hooked On Phonics. I did a bunch of paperwork organizing and cooked vegetables to puree so I can hide them in our food, and dishes and whatnot around the house. I am really praying to get to the bottom of this: I am having an array of weird health symptoms, and they seem kind of stress related sometimes, which really bothers me because I don’t think I have any good reason to be stressed.

Anyway, for almost 2 weeks now (and actually off and on for a month before that), I have had this throat contraction/tight feeling called “cricopharyngeus spasm”. It freaked me out at first because I had been working more on vocal stuff and I thought that maybe I had actually hurt my vocal cords. I gave it to the Lord and just tried to relax, because my voice, even just talking to my family, is a gift from the Lord and He is in control of it!
It has gotten a little better, but it is still there all of the time. From the research I’ve done, some doctors think it is related to reflux. This does run in my family, but I have never had any symptoms of reflux before (except for when I was pregnant). So, I’m taking some otc reflux meds, but nothing is changing, and I am having some other reflux symptoms like ear pain and tight chest, too. It’s so weird! I’m praying it will just pass over and not come back. But there are the details on that situation!

So Long!

Well, I am officially a terrible blogger. Too much to do!

We had an incredible summer, and though I am still hanging on to it, I have to admit the fall weather has been fun already. Getting on a jacket, making some chili, pumpkin patch day coming up…
I would post new pictures, I have some great ones!!!! But my iPhoto and a few other muy importante programs on my computer are on the fritz or the blink or whatever you call it when you can’t use them.
Life is definitely different with two kids! Jack and I both have very full, long days between our home life and work. I don’t sit down. I have to work hard to stay organized in order to make it all fit together without one of us screaming. And yet, there is always at least one of us screaming anyway! Whenever things start to get complicated, we really try to sit back and simplify because time just goes too fast. We aren’t involved in thing right now actually, because we genuinely are doing our best in our home and work and there isn’t much time or energy left…especially since the girls are in bed around 8 p.m. now!
I’m praying and thinking a bit more about music these days…I’ve been really encouraged lately in my singing and song writing, and I want to wait on God’s timing (and also the timing of reality, because how I could I do more than I am doing?), but I feel like I am preparing to get back in the swing of performing again. I love that form of communication and feel blessed to have had it in the past. Maybe it will come back up again.
One idea I have is to do a little Holiday Tour this November and December. I have worked up about an hour of Christmas songs, a little over half on guitar and the rest on piano. They are a mixture of Mindy Smith, Sara Groves, Sarah McLachlan, my own (I just wrote a new Christmas song last week, too!), and traditionals. So…maybe in the next week or so I can start to see if there’s any interest in me coming out and playing at anyone’s holiday events, coffeehouses, parties, dinners, etc…I think it would just be fun. 🙂
Happy Fall to you friends!

Another Step in a Lifelong Lesson

We’ve had a wonderful summer: Simple, sunshine, home, popsicles, family, friends, sunflowers. My days are full. There is a lot of peace because I know I’m obeying for this season. It is so freeing to just attempt to obey, not attempt to fix my life and save the world; it is so freeing to stop thinking I was made to do something more, harder, or more important than this normal daily life I lead, and to stop thinking I am supposed to get somewhere else. It’s not that things won’t happen with missions or music (my passions!)…it’s just that I know now what my responsibility is, and I’m sticking to it. For maybe the first time in my life, I am living for now, and don’t feel responsible for tomorrow’s callings.
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God has definitely made it clear in half a dozen ways how incapable I am of doing what is clearly in my lap today anyway, let alone tomorrow’s callings. It is actually freeing to know that I can’t do the things I tell the Lord I’ll do for Him; I’m not trying to prove I can do anything anymore, because He has made me utterly unable (on my own). It was necessary for me to see that I am really not good at anything I attempt! Marriage, my walk with God, song writing/singing, missions, intercession, parenting, relationships, running a household. I had to see how much I really stink at these things and start from there. I was like, “Why are you making me realize this, God? Just to make me feel horrible? Just to make me see how I can fix my own life and squeeze it all in and just learn to do better after all these years of failing at it???” And He was like, “No, to set you free.”
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He is setting me free. And practically speaking, this freedom has brought changes to my lifelong desires, to my thought processes, to how I spend my energy, and to what I really think I need in life. (matt. 22:37) Right now, knowing I am not good at any of the things I always expected myself to excel at, my life really does revolve around dependence on Jesus in each of these things which are alive and well in my daily life (and I am certainly unable to do this without His very patient grace). I think I am getting to the place where I don’t want anything more than He wants for me, which means two things. Number one, it absolutely means that I cannot spend my time thinking about, desiring, needing, and working toward places (both literally and figuratively) that He has not given me. Number two, it means I surrender everything I ever thought I would have, do, or be in order to embrace daily obedience in the here and now NOT KNOWING where it will lead. (This season by season obedience may very well lead to where we thought it would…but we don’t obey because of where we think we’ll end up! We obey, and die to where we want to end up. We decide walking with Him is more important than anything we could be or do.) We are told we are supposed to live our life with this end vision, and you logically figure out what steps you need to take to get there. They call that purposeful living, and I was all about that! That was so me! But God is changing me; I don’t know about you, but God hasn’t told me any end visions…except that He is returning and He wants us to recognize each other on that day. Whatever passions or ideas He has planted, surely He will also be faithful to water and grow and blossom them, if He chooses. He doesn’t have to. We do sometimes run away with His ideas and make them pretty different than He first said…
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The last thing I’ll say is I thought that what I expected from my life was HIS idea!! So I was running after it FOR Him, or so I thought were the motives of my heart! Thank goodness He was running after me, chasing me down, pulling me over on the side of the road to tell me the truth about myself and about what He really wants. My expectations are little by little just narrowing down to Jesus; not the mission field & saving lives in africa, not a music career, not a mother of two brilliant prodigy children, not a intercessor & teacher & writer of deep things the Lord reveals. I had a fatal belief that I needed to be important. This is something like round 103 of finding out I just need to be His.

Musicly Speaking…If Anyone Is Listening :)

*I am working on a song, almost finished…It’s about themes from the book of Genesis, called “It All Began”. It’s a little different than what I normally write, but I’m kind of interested in how it turns out. I have this idea, although it sounds a bit corny, to write a whole CD of songs just going through big sections at a time of the Bible…trying to give a fresh perspective on major themes…It’ll be a good challenge and I hope I can co-write some of them.
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*For now, I don’t have a single singing gig, but I think I will again in the future. I want to improve on piano, guitar, vocals, and writing in this particular season of my life and am doing some things to work toward that goal, I think in preparation for some things to come. I am in a song writing class with Ginny Owens on-line. It’s a little intimidating, but I am really excited about what she is teaching.
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*I have about 8 songs that I am hoping to at least roughly record on Garage Band and put on my blog at www.lyndsaytaylor.com. Only one is on there right now, “While This Story’s Unfolding”. I hope to put songs I wrote during the adoption journey on there in the next couple of weeks: “Conversations”, “To the End”, “Raise Her Child in Peace”, “The Dawn”,  & “For the Second Time”.
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*I miss singing and sharing. Ginny’s assignment for us this week was to make up a statement or pick a verse that would help us when we feel discouraged about writing–I think of several things, I have such a hard time being concise: Writing is worth it no matter what becomes of it, because it is a chance to search out the heart of something and draw nearer to the Lord in the process. It’s like Bible study and worship and journaling all wrapped up into one. It matures my heart and clarifies my views on things; makes me work through deeper issues of life. What an extra blessing it is to actually get to communicate these findings with others on the road!

Thankful

*Today is Selah’s 4th birthday! Wow! What a precious, crazy, unbelievable 4 years. She has brought so much joy and wonder into my life.

*I am sleeping and feel well! This has been an issue for years; I am on medicine that works and I feel like a different person. Just in time to be creative and energetic with my daughters. Thank you, Jesus!
*Yemi is safely and happily home! I still marvel at this miracle, and thank God in absolute relief that the trial of the adoption journey is over. Now, we are just enjoying life together, and she is a fun, cuddly, sweetheart baby.
*Jack has a great job and works a lot at home. He gets to be creative and gets to see his girls!
*This is small, (not really), but it looks like we can have our health insurance go down to something reasonable and not have the usual summer spike. 
Praise God from whom all blessings flow!

The Fruit of the What?

Tonight I was reading to Selah the “Sweet Dreams Princess” version of Galatians 5:22, the passage about the Fruit of the Spirit. It was completely going over her head, and after I tried to explain how the Lord helps us to be kind, gentle, and patient, I said to her, “Okay. If the Lord plants love like a seed in your heart, what do you think will grow in your heart and then in your life?” She paused and looked down for a second to think about it, then looked up at me with her hands turned up and said, “Yogurt??”

LOL.

His Solemn Vow

While we were worshipping on Sunday morning, we were singing about our desire for God to come like the sunrise, finally bringing His justice and mercy for us all, asking Him to rise in the darkness and bring us peace…I loved this imagery (major props to God and Jamie Foster, who wrote the song), and I was just thanking God that this is WHO HE IS!! He IS justice and mercy and light, and He will bring these things to earth in His time (read Isaiah for more!!) I can’t wait. For those around the world in desperate need, I know He is at work through His Church, but I know that true deliverance and freedom is waiting in the wings with the return of Jesus. 

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As I was worshipping, this thought came to my mind from the Lord: He said, “I sent My Word”. It was like He was reminding me of a solemn vow He had made to bring justice and compassion, vengeance and peace, restoration and truly, finally, the government on His shoulders. Loving the fatherless, drying every tear, rebuilding the ruins, bringing beauty from ashes. He sent His Word; like a person used to “send word” to their loved ones to say what they’re doing, when they’re coming, what to do in the meantime. He sent His Word: A promise of His character and heart. And this message, this “go ahead of Me and tell them Who I Am, tell them what I am doing”, was embodied in the holy, compassionate, fiery for truth, Son of God. Jesus was God’s Word (John 1). He was a not-so-subtle story of God and all that God represents; He was the Word, the sweet foretelling, sent forth to give hope.
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Somehow as we receive Jesus, God’s solemn vow, His message of what is now and what is to come is placed in us…to not-so-subtly show the world. I pray two things for myself: #1 – That I will live to know Jesus more and deeper, because no other goal matters in comparison. This is worthy of all I am and all I do. #2 – That my life (by the power of the Holy Spirit) would show people the heart and plan and character of our great God who is coming for us!!! 
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How lovely on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, that OUR GOD REIGNS!

Lots of Pictures!

Hope everyone enjoys the new pictures! I thought Selah’s sidewalk chalk drawings were so great; and seeing our family with Yemi has been wonderful! Everyone is doing really well here although it is louder and busier than ever before; Yemi (9 1/2 months old) is starting to crawl (she’s really good at the army crawl all of a sudden), and is sitting up by herself! Selah (almost 4)  is being an awesome big sis, and we’re all just thrilled that it is spring!!!