Chase Fireflies


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The Story of Linda

Sometimes, God shows up as you never expected.  He does something that you would not believe, even if you were told.  When the tears come, He counts them and holds them in heaven.  In exchange, He fills our mouths with laughter; our tongues with songs of joy. 

This is the story of Linda.

Linda was a missionary to Korea.  Actually, she always said that she was a missionary to her own family first, so I suppose Korea was second.  She had three girls and a boy and a husband who adored her.  She made her home in a foreign land.  Her home was simple and cramped for six, but as rich as rich could be. 

I remember a lot of things about Linda.  Like how she could whip up the best chocolate chip cookies ever.  Always perfect and melt in your mouth.   And then she introduced me to this cherry dump cake stuff.  Oh my word.  For three years, I lived on kimchee and rice and cherry dump cake.  It was that good.

Linda loved Jesus, marriage, and babies.  And she was not quiet about loving any of those things.  She lived out her passion for God where He called her.  Sometimes God had her stay at home and raise her family.  Sometimes God had her on a street lined with bars and strip clubs.  We loved going there on Friday nights to invite others to church.  I’ll never forget those Friday nights. 

Eleven years ago, I introduced her to Paul, when he flew to Korea.  She was almost as happy as I was to have met him.  Her joy for my joy was unmatched.   At my wedding shower her words of wisdom included, “Kristin, have lots of beautiful babies.”  She would have been so proud with our two. 

God placed Linda in my life for three short years.  She welcomed me into her home, her life, her faith.  Through her, I got to see what devotion looked like.  She was my friend and my mentor. A few steps ahead of me in life, she encouraged me to run consistently and set a good pace.  I loved her.  We all did. 

Last week, in the midst of a special breakfast with the kids, I got the devastating news.  While speaking to eleventh graders about Christ, Linda suffered a massive brain aneurysm.  She was 52. Tears fell as raindrops from a deeper place within me and I couldn’t make them stop.  Her death sent a family, a school, a church, and a community into a swift unexpected grief. 

This is where God shows up.  Granted, He’s been there all along, but His presence becomes undeniable now. 

Linda made a decision, years ago, to donate her organs.  Because of that one small decision, three people’s lives were saved in Korea. Her liver and kidneys were perfect matches to people who had been given a death sentence.  In addition, her skin was donated to burn victims. Her corneas were given that others might see. 

It was a small decision on her part at the time.  Consistent with her life, she gave even in death. 

What no one would have ever imagined was that Linda was the first foreigner ever in Korea to have donated her organs.  Organ donation in Korea is extremely rare, with only one in a million Koreans even doing it.  This simple act of love was unprecedented for a foreigner.  News agencies stirred.

In a matter of a couple days, numerous articles have been penned about Linda.  Three of Korea’s biggest news channels covered her memorial service.  The good news about Christ has been aired for a nation to see.  Reporters have said that she gave her life and her death to a people that were not her own.  Countless have come to grips with their own humanity and with a Savior’s love. 

And this, all because of the faith of a woman named Linda. 
Who taught me how to live and who taught me how to die. 

“But your dead will live, their bodies will rise.”  – Isaiah 26:19

”I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living.  Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.”           -Psalm 27:13-14


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E.T.

 

So this is the fifth member of our family.

He is an integral part of most days, though he does disappear on occasion for weeks (and months) on end. 

E. T.  has been discovered in a shoe, in a pillowcase, in drawers, in our tens container for school, in cabinets, in cereal boxes, and in a gerbil cage (where he lost a finger and killed a gerbil with the gerbil’s digestion of said finger – at least that was what we surmised).

The kids have recently gotten really into E.T.  They LOVE hiding him for both Paul and I to find!  It’s a ridiculous little family thing, but it makes us smile.  The kids really enjoy scheming.  (Though I’ve had to nix a few plans – like cooking him in Paul’s macaroni and cheese.  Yuck!)

Do you do anything ridiculous in your home to make it a place of laughter? 


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One Foot in Front of the Other

Somewhere in between the lace tying and the desperate gasps for breath, I am learning what it means to worship. 

Hit the track; one foot in front of the other.  Round the bend; measure the pace.  Breathe.

I run because I can.  These legs, though awkward and painfully slow, go forward. I run because I need firmness beneath my feet.  Running grounds me.  I need God because I can’t do it on my own.

On a good day, I get out all of the junk within my heart.  Every impatience and criticism falls as sweat beneath my feet.  I feel less burdened then, more like how I was meant to be all along.  I run faster, lighter, and sing.  There is purpose in each step. 

On a typical day, I don’t feel like running at all.  I conjure up any number of excuses.  Mostly too busy and too tired masquerade for too lazy.  If I hit the track regardless, I’ve won.  Stretch and put one foot in front of the other.

Not a mile and a half in, my legs are as dead weight.  There are others who run faster.  I care too much about where everyone else is on the track.   In watching the others, I forget that I’m there to worship.  I don’t want to ever forget.

I focus, listen, pray.  Defeat wants to creep  in. I have to remember that it was never meant to be easy.  I’ve got to learn to praise anyway.  At its heart, worship is praising in the pain and in the pleasure. 

Hebrews says to run with perseverance with your eyes fixed on Him who bore our sin.  Run towards the cross.  Follow His steps, follow His suffering.  I learn this as I run; one foot in front of the other.

Yet Jesus endured the cross not for pain, but for the joy set before Him; for the end of the run; the redemption of our souls.   He didn’t focus on the pain, staring at the joy.  There’s nothing better than the end of a good run: the exhilaration, the relief, the accomplishment. 

Somewhere in between the lace tying and the desperate gasps for breath, I am learning what it means to worship.  There are so many more miles to go.


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Beggars and Thieves

There were beggars.

Relegating themselves to weathered skin on the cold stone ground.  Holding out mangled hands; rasping unintelligible words; lining the cathedral of God. 

There were thieves. 

Glancing furtively; attacking quietly.  Plain clothed people.  Regarding others as pawn and pawn as riches for the squander; interspersed in the cathedral of God.

We were warned of them, as inherent in the architecture.  “Notre Dame boasts its flying buttresses and clustered pillars, but you will also find its beggars and thieves.”    

Walking in, we found that stone after stone grasped for the heavens.  Vaulting shafts conspired to tell of a Grandeur whom the architects had to have known.  Every window and portal painted God’s story.

Notre Dame has this fascinating history of prayer and music; of pillage, of plunder; of saints and sinners.  In 1768, geographers decided that all distances in France would be measured from its spires. It would serve as a tool of reference; of distance to and from.

Revolution found war here.  Victor Hugo found inspiration.  I found an identity of sorts.

There was a certain desperation in the eyes of the beggars I met that day:  a poverty of externals; a poverty of the soul.   I have looked into these eyes before, serving potato soup and browned beans.  I wondered how poverty seemed at home in a homeless shelter and yet so out of place here. 

My best conclusion is that Notre Dame is a cathedral, immense and rich, constructed to weave the goodness of the God-man into the fabric of humanity’s sin.  Creating a stunning work of art that rings out redemption with its bells.  Yet redemption wasn’t ringing.  I could see it in their eyes. 

What could they see in my own?

Would they see me begging for mercy and yet so quickly robbing others of its riches?  Would they see me craving for more than my daily bread and finding a gnawing hunger in my soul for more?  Would they see me crying for God’s will to be done and stealing that will into my own hands? 

I am accustomed to living in this world of faded glory, under the heavens.  Mine is a dim understanding, like squinting to see text in the dark.  Glory will be met one day, and held close in my arms, and worshipped.  For now I see only faint traces, even as I am fully known. 

These faint traces of Glory may look like the laughter of our kids, the bent knee of humility, the hushed white of snow blanketing the hardened ground.  Yet without Glory giving me eyes to see, I bypass it all.  I am the beggar in the cathedral who doesn’t know for Whom the grandeur was made; who hardly sees grandeur at all. 

Despite the suffering in this world; even in the midst of that very pain, Glory is alive and well.  This side of heaven, Hope surrounds me, ascends beyond the clouds, and stands firm beneath my wandering feet. 

His story is the One I must know, grasp, and tell, for by it I am made fully whole.

Above all, I am a beggar and a thief redeemed to love.  If there be any desperation and craving in me, may it be the plea to be cured of this world’s blindness.  I so need the vision of Christ above my own.  

“Son of David, have mercy on me…  Lord, I want to see.”