Learning Lessons From God

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Learning Lessons From God!

God's lessons can often be the most painful and hardest to learn or maybe it just seems that way to me because I am not so easy to teach!

Since our return to Cebu in June after a six week furlough, it seems as if our ministry has had one emergency after another, with each emergency bringing greater heartache than the one before. We have had children in the hospital, moms in the hospital, head injuries, children hit by jeepneys, deaths of family members and the death of Baby James. It felt more than this human heart could bear.

At Lilia's Place our motto has been "Providing Hope!" We wanted the sick and the hurting to know there was a place for them, there was someone who cared about them, who would carry them through the dark times of their lives. But what happens when you get exactly what you wished for and more...

I won't lie, these emergencies put me in a tailspin. They brought me to my knees and taught me a powerful lesson.

It had been a really long day, both girls were sick, I had taught school all day and of course there had been the nonstop request for help and then I get the text on my phone that one of our kids was in the emergency room and had a possible head injury. We pick up our sick girls from home and head to the hospital. This is the fourth emergency we have had in a two week period, not only am I exhausted, but I also know that our emergency funds are running pretty low. I am trying to figure out how in the world Lilia's Place is going to swing this, I am sure the look on my face is not one that would put hope in anyone's heart. Still, as I am about to enter the emergency room I am greeted by the sister of the little boy who has been admitted. She gives a little jump, claps her hands and greets me with the most beautiful smile. I can see in her eyes that she thinks the calvary has arrived. My heart shattered into a million pieces because I knew I wasn't the calvary she needed. I don't think I handled that situation at the emergency room that night with the patience and love of Christ. I marched in as an exhausted, frustrated and demanding general. Yes, the child got the medical care he needed, but how did I make others feel as that feat was accomplished? I know God must have been looking down on me that evening and shaking his head in frustration. Nope, I had not yet mastered the objective.

God gave me several reteach lessons, the last of which left my heart bloody and raw! The day James died, a ten month old baby, was one of the darkest days in this ministry. As I hugged a devastated and sobbing Nenita in my arms that evening, all I could think about was that I had failed! How had I let this baby die, what could I have done differently? I came home and fell to my knees that night, begging God to help me understand. Then things began to unravel with the landlord and Doug and Alaric had to go out and find a place for the wake. I was angry, frustrated, devastated and something else that I couldn't quite put my finger on. I sent out requests for prayers from everyone I knew and then I called my father. I was crying hysterically and he couldn't understand me at first and he thought something had happened to Doug or one of the kids, when I finally caught my breath to tell him about Baby James, he was as heartbroken as I was. We talked for a long time and he gave me a very powerful wake up call. We talked about all of the emergencies that had occurred and he said, "Wow, I wonder what lesson God is trying to teach? Obviously, someone isn't learning what they are supposed to learn." He said this with the utmost of compassion, almost as a thought spoken aloud.

Those words lingered on my mind and my heart for the next few days. I spent so much time on my knees praying, reading my Bible, and listening to some powerful sermons. I told God I was done, I quit, I can't do this anymore! That was the exact moment this huge weight was lifted off of my shoulders and I could almost here God saying, "Congratulations, Lisa, you have mastered the objective!"

What was the lesson: This is not about you and what you can do! Lilia's Place was not created for personal glory, but for Heavenly glory!

In every situation I had tried to take control. I had forgotten that God was in control. All of the things that I saw as an obstacle, God was saying, "Stop, look and let my glory shine! See what I am able to do!"

Though I had finally learned my lesson, I still felt too raw to continue this ministry. It was time to walk, I sat down to write our board and there on my computer were two beautiful letters of encouragement, one from our preacher, Mark Howell and the other from our elder and board member, Dr. Mark Sanders. Tears poured down my face as I read both letters. They helped me to see that Lilia's Place does have a purpose. We don't control things that happen, but God uses me, Doug and our incredible team to do wonderful life-changing things here in Cebu City. We are here to be his hands and feet, we are not here to let the light shine on Lilia's Place, we are here to let HIS light shine through Lilia's Place. We do give hope, but that hope is the good news that we have a savior and his name is Jesus!

Posted by Lilia's Place at 2:37 AM


    Arjay after being hit by a jeepney.



    Jerry awaiting news on head injury.



    Baby James' funeral.



    Avelyn and our newest addition, John.



A Full Time Savior

Humble My Heart, Oh Lord!

Sadly, the past couple of months have been a struggle for me. It has become a constant battle within my heart and I have come to the conclusion that I am horribly inadequate for this mission God has called me to do.

There are many words that others would use to describe me; organized, punctual, perfectionist, hard working, determined, straight forward...qualities often valued by employers. However, the one quality I most need for this 
ministry is extremely deficient, patience! 
Friday, was probably one of the most difficult days I have had. I arrived at our center at about 7:45 and was greeted with two sick children, two parents missing their duties, one child absent again because of a hung over, drugged out parent, and the discovery that a sponsored parent had once again stolen a piece of equipment from us and pawned it and all this before breakfast had even been served.

I wished I could say I handled it with grace and humility, but shamefully, I did not. My impatient, frustrated, prideful self came out and I immediately set out to right the situation. My wonderful team and husband, listened patiently as I went into action and ranted and raged. I was fed up with ungrateful people! Their children received school supplies, an education, medical care, food, clothes and shoes. Why in the world couldn't they just show up, one day a week and do the small duties they were assigned, to show their gratefulness! How could that drugged up mother not think about what she was doing to her children? Doesn't she want better for her children than what she herself has? Isn't that what a normal parent would want? Stupid me! Didn't I learn my lesson from the first time the parent had stolen from us? I get what I deserve for giving second and third chances. I'm doing all of this and they are just downright ungrateful! Why am I putting myself through this and doing all of this work when they are never going to change! Oh sure, they don't want to do anything, but where is the first place they come when they are sick or their children are sick!

Yes, all of those thoughts and words came from me. A woman claiming to be a missionary and the hands and feet of Christ. Yet, here I was, committing the first sin, pride. How does pride fit into this picture you might ask.

God has blessed me abundantly. He blesses me every minute, every second of everyday! Instead of praising God for those blessings and seeking to bless others, I walked around in pride and looked down on others and passed judgement on their thoughts and actions. Why couldn't they think and act like I do, like what a normal person would do? In my prideful state I was acting as if everything I had was mine, as if everything I had given to them was coming from me, as if Lilia's Place was my accomplishment instead of God's.

When did I come to this realization? Not until the day was over and I was driving home and listening to a podcast of one of my favorite ministers. There is a law that states, what is up, must come down and God was bringing me down from my pedestal pretty quickly. I had spent the day in complete frustration because I was dealing with people who just didn't want to improve. What I had failed to see was that we were ALL broken people brought together by God for a purpose. The fact that I am not a mother who has missed her assignment because her infant child has slept on the streets all night and has woken up with a fever, or that I am not a drug addict and can no longer think clearly or that I do not have to steal to feed my children is not because of who I am, but because of God! He is the one who, for reasons beyond my comprehension, has decided to bless me. God must have been looking at me in the same way I was looking at those He had sent me to serve.

I have spent the night and all day in prayer asking God to humble my heart. I have told God that I do not know what to do, that this thing is too big for me, how can I do your bidding when I am myself so broken and incompetent?

His answer, "Yes, my child, it is too big for you, but not for me! Where you lack, I overflow!"

Pride is a deceitful master. My fervent prayer is that I will not forget my true master and that I will stay focused on those He has sent me to serve and that I will look at them through His eyes and not my own. When I bring glory to God only then can I be a true blessing to others.

Who knows, maybe one day somebody will describe me as patient, hey quit laughing, it could happen. After all, everything is possible through God!

Posted by Lilia's Place at 8:03 AM