Monday, May 31, 2010

An Unnamed Hero of the Faith ... Go.Ask.Trust.Tell.

One of my favorite little stories in the entire Bible is found in the fourth chapter of John’s gospel – just after one of my other favorite stories, the famous “woman at the well”, for which El Pozo is named. This story is about “a certain royal official” – we don’t even get his name – whose example has much to teach you and me about how to live a life of faith…

43After the two days [Jesus] left for Galilee. 44(Now Jesus himself had pointed out that a prophet has no honor in his own country.) 45When he arrived in Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him. They had seen all that he had done in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, for they also had been there.
46Once more he visited Cana in Galilee, where he had turned the water into wine. And there was a certain royal official whose son lay sick at Capernaum. 47When this man heard that Jesus had arrived in Galilee from Judea, he went to him and begged him to come and heal his son, who was close to death.
48"Unless you people see miraculous signs and wonders," Jesus told him, "you will never believe."
49The royal official said, "Sir, come down before my child dies."
50Jesus replied, "You may go. Your son will live."
The man took Jesus at his word and departed. 51While he was still on the way, his servants met him with the news that his boy was living. 52When he inquired as to the time when his son got better, they said to him, "The fever left him yesterday at the seventh hour."
53Then the father realized that this was the exact time at which Jesus had said to him, "Your son will live." So he and all his household believed.
54This was the second miraculous sign that Jesus performed, having come from Judea to Galilee.

Here’s what I love about this guy:

First, he WENT. Although his son was sick and nearing death, this man left his boy’s side and hoofed it to where Jesus was. As a new dad, I am struck by the difficulty of that moment of leaving. How beautiful it is to know that we have a God who pursues us – the God of the prodigal son who runs out to meet us as we stumble toward home. But we also have a part to play. God allows us to live our lives. He’s always there with open arms – but we have to choose to stumble toward home. How often we fail to take even the simplest steps TOWARD CHRIST. Instead of spending 10 minutes reading my Bible I hit “snooze”. Instead of grabbing a few moments of prayer, listening to God, I turn on the TV and watch another brain-draining detective drama. Instead of going to that meeting where I know I will be challenged and/or filled up by God and His people, I just … stay where I am. Sometimes out of comfort, sometimes in my pity party. But not this guy. The official in the story did NOT sit still. In a time of crisis, he was a man of action. He got up, hugged his son knowing it may be their last hug but believing that it didn’t have to be, and with tears in his eyes he started hiking. I have an aunt who, if I ever asked her to do something for me when I was a kid, responded with “Is your leg broke?!?!” Meaning – “Do it yourself! Don’t be lazy!” Surely there are some times when our “legs are broke” – when we have done all we can and our friends must put us on the mat and carry us to Jesus’ feet. But the rest of the time we must do what we can to cast all else aside and GET TO JESUS…

Step one: GO to Jesus.

Secondly, the man ASKED. So often in this life of faith it comes down to this: “We have not because we ask not”. What loving father refuses to give good gifts to his children when they ask? And the man in our story, he didn’t just ask… We are told that he BEGGED. This royal official humbled himself. Our silly pride goes out the window when a loved one is ill, doesn’t it? It’s like when a mom shaves her head in solidarity with her cancer-plagued child. Whatever it takes. It’s about PURPOSE. That bald head is not a weird or self-centered fashion statement. It is an act of love, totally others-focused. That is the spirit in which this man comes before the rabbi and begs Jesus to come and heal his son. Help me, Jesus! I need your power. My son is all but dead, but you can bring life…

Step two: ASK Jesus for what it is that you need.

Thirdly, the man TRUSTED. Notice this detail of the story: In v.47 the man begs Jesus to COME and heal his son. Then Jesus rebukes the people for always demanding signs in order to believe. Then again in v.49 the man begs, “Sir, COME down before my child dies”. I imagine he might have been thinking “Good grief, save the sermon for later! Time is of the essence! Come NOW and heal my son, please!” But then an amazing thing happens… Jesus says, “You may go. Your son will now live.”, and the man … LEAVES! If this had been me, I think I would have refused. I may have even attempted to chain myself to Jesus like some radical political protestor until he agreed to COME with me and heal my son. But this royal official, he had faith on a whole other level. He – gasp! – TOOK JESUS AT HIS WORD, trusted that Jesus could heal his son even from afar, and turned around and left! To me, this is one of the most subtle and amazing acts of faith in the entire Bible. He went, he begged Jesus for what he thought was needed (COME and heal my son…), he got a clear answer from the Lord (though NOT exactly the answer he sought), and he trusted Jesus enough to pick up his stuff and head back home, leaving Jesus to continue his work and heal some more folks. To truly “believe” is much more than some kind of intellectual assent. Real faith = trust + action. I want that kind of faith in my life…

Step three: TRUST Jesus.

And finally, last but not least, the royal official / desperate dad went back home and he … TOLD people what had happened. How do we know this? That beautiful last sentence in v.53 – “So he AND ALL HIS HOUSEHOLD believed.” Why and how did the rest of his household believe? Most certainly because he went back and told them the story! The timing was clear – at the moment that Jesus spoke, the son was healed. But if this man had just kept silent, thanking God in private but never telling others what had happened? One or two would have been saved, but not a whole household – not to mention future generations and other friends and neighbors, etc., as the story rippled outward into geography and time. I think of the parable of the talents. It’s clear that God desires to MULTIPLY our talents. Often – and rightly so – we apply this to money, resources, opportunities. But perhaps the thing that you and I have that is most multipliable - and perhaps the thing we are most tempted to "bury in a hole in the ground" - is this: our STORY. God fed 5,000 with a few fish and loaves – when the disciples turned what little they had over to Jesus. God saved a whole household by healing one little boy – when the grateful dad went back and told everyone what had happened. I am bothered these days by the lack of passion for evangelism, especially among young Christians. The focus on the "social gospel" and meeting physical needs has, among many of my friends, gone so far that there is a perceived lack of need to tell the story at all. I agree that often the “telling” need not involve so much talking; as St. Francis of Assisi famously said, “Preach the Gospel always; if necessary use words.” But the Gospel must be communicated, nonetheless. Lived out, spoken, whatever - it is essentially a MESSAGE that we have for the world. One thing is for sure: However he told it (and I’d bet it was with great energy and passion!), this royal official in John 4 made the story of his son’s healing by Jesus known, and many were saved as a result…

Step four: TELL your story, what Jesus has done in your life.

It’s a simple formula: Go. Ask. Trust. Tell. And it only works in the context of an ACTIVE faith in which face-to-face, real encounters with Jesus and with other people are the norm.

God bless you, unnamed royal official! I have learned so much from your example of faith. I would love to sit down with you someday in eternity and hear you tell this story again in your own words. Thank you, St. John! For seeing the importance of recording this little bit of the Jesus story for future generations.

I am reminded just now – and so let’s end with the words of – a great old hymn that we used to sing in my church growing up – “I Love to Tell the Story” (by Arabella K. Hankey, 1866):

I love to tell the story of unseen things above,
Of Jesus and His glory, of Jesus and His love;
I love to tell the story, because I know ’tis true,
It satisfies my longings as nothing else would do.

I love to tell the story,
’Twill be my theme in glory,
To tell the old, old story
Of Jesus and His love.

I love to tell the story, more wonderful it seems
Than all the golden fancies of all our golden dreams;
I love to tell the story, it did so much for me,
And that is just the reason I tell it now to thee.

I love to tell the story, ’tis pleasant to repeat,
What seems each time I tell it more wonderfully sweet;
I love to tell the story, for some have never heard
The message of salvation from God’s own holy Word.

I love to tell the story, for those who know it best
Seem hungering and thirsting to hear it like the rest;
And when in scenes of glory I sing the new, new song,
’Twill be the old, old story that I have loved so long.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Elsa Lynne McDade - Update - 28 May 2010

Hey everybody. Sorry so long between posts. Been busy of course. Wrapped up a great semester and now in the middle of planning for Summer, planning for Fall, keeping some Bible studies and such going in the Summer, and trying to read/rest/relax/take it down to 4th gear for a few weeks - while not getting fat in the process. I have really enjoyed a little more time with Elsa lately. I observe a direct correlation between the amount of affection with which she responds to me and the amount of time I'm able to be at home with her. She even gives me kisses now! So sweet. So without further ado, here's the update on the little one:

She's growing so fast. I've always heard people say of this stage that there's something new every day, and it's really true. On 5 de Mayo she got her first tooth. On 6 de Mayo she began crawling. Soon after that came pulling herself up on the furniture. And now she crawls so fast it's hard to believe she's only been doing it for a few days. One day she just decided to crawl up the stairs and there she went - up two stairs in the blink of an eye. Now she's starting to try standing without holding anything. Only lasts a few seconds before she falls or grabs onto something again, but walking cannot be far away. Today she climbed all the way to the top of the stairs - with Mommy spotting, of course - AND opened her first cabinet. She talks all the time but still says no "real words". Although now when we try to teach her words she concentrates and actually tries to imitate us. She makes a variety of sounds, but most everything comes out as some form of "dadadadadadadada". Which, of course, is music to my ears.

She's really becoming a little girl and not just a baby, if that makes sense. We can see her personality coming out more and more. Frighteningly, she's much like her Daddy so far. She's stubborn and fearless and impatient. She loves to eat most of what we give her, but flat-out refuses to eat the things she doesn't find tasty. Erin has been awesome about mixing in fruits with veggies. It's not uncommon for Elsa to down a bowl of pear-chayote-chicken-kiwi-peas or some other random mixture that you and I would probably find disgusting. The availability and affordability of fresh fruits and vegetables here has been a real blessing. Erin loves making Elsa's food and we've only used store-bought stuff once at the very beginning in order to get the little jars! Back to the personality: She's very studious. She's always learning and her default facial expression is one of deep concentration. Eyebrows angled down, totally in the zone. She also loves to laugh and smile; she just picks her moments. She's very social but doesn't like big crowds. She LOVES to see other little kids and always turns toward them, smiling and squealing and grunting and throwing out her arms in a way that suggests "Hey! Come be my friend!" Carter and Emerson never fail to elicit an excited response from Elsa.

As you will see in the photos, Elsa has joined the gym. It's funny to me that she has her own ID and everything. Erin joined a gym and for a few dollars more each month we were able to add Elsa, so that Erin can take advantage of the great child care while she works out. She's even able to look down into the child care area from the treadmills and elliptical machines. It's a nice setup and Erin is super-excited.

The two best bets for Elsa's future career, as of this week, are pirate or dentist. This is because it seems like her two favorite things to do these days are stick her hands in my mouth and feel around and scream "aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh!" at the top of her lungs. Often at the same time. She has also shown an interest, however, in gymnastics (a.k.a. she loves it when i flip her upside down and roll her on the bed), entomology (a.k.a. she loves to chase ants around the tile floor), and all things water-related (a.k.a. she would stay in the bath all day if we let her and loves to soak the whole room with her splashes).

Elsa continues to enjoy her weekly classes at My Gym. She's graduated from "Little Bundles" to "Tiny Tikes", and now the classes are much more active. Erin took her to a free trial of baby yoga with some friends the other day and that was a major failure. Let's just say that Elsa is more of a baby tai-bo kind of baby. She and yoga were not compatible in the least. Baby swimming lessons coming soon as a part of the gym membership - should be fun.

One more thing - here we are 28 de Mayo and we still just have the one tooth! It towers above the surrounding landscape of gums, standing alone. I have been unable to get a good photo of this, but it's pretty cute and funny-looking. We fully expect some more teeth any day now.

Okay two more things: For three months Elsa had the great privilege of being cared for by my cousin Erin Oakley, who came down to be her nanny. It was a beautiful time and I don't even know how to appropriately express my thanks to God and to Erin O. for this gift. The relationship between Erin O. and Elsa is so sweet and beautiful and it was just a really wonderful few weeks. THANKS, CUZ!!! Erin O. also blogs and took a ton of wonderful photos of Elsa. Check out her blog to see them.

Okay - on to the latest photos! LOTS of them, so pack a lunch.

Villa Ahumada, Chihuahua. I drove by this four times in the past two years but for some reason never noticed it before...

Sending an "I love you" back down to Puebla. It was so hard to leave Erin and Elsita for a whole week but another great Juarez house-building trip with El Pozo staff and students made it worthwhile.

Back home from my trip, just hanging out.

Ticklish ribs.

Rolling on the bed was THE favorite activity before crawling happened. It was hilarious because she could only go right. Easy to defend.


The fuzzy dome.

Always trying to grab the camera.


With buddy Carter Cooper.

With Carter.

Easter Sunday. He is risen!

Easter Sunday.

Easter Sunday.

Easter Sunday.

Easter, with Mommy.

An early failed attempt at pulling herself up on the toy basket.

There - much better.

Chit chat.

"Pick me up!"

Play time.

Play time.


Mommy rules.

Downtown Puebla next to the "Welcome, mice" sign. Silly.

Great shot of the hair blowing in the wind.

Snuggle time with Mommy. The best.

Hanging with the great Sue Cooper. Hey Elsa, grow up to be like this lady!

Helping Mommy with laundry.

Helping Mommy with laundry.

Helping Mommy with laundry.

Helping Mommy with laundry.


Choosing toys.

Peter Piper Pizza party.

Peter Piper Pizza party.

At Liz's graduation lunch.

Baby hawk by Daddy.

Lookin' tough.

Daddy time.

Bath time!!!

"Can I get in yet???"

Obligatory butt shot.

Hanging with Mommy.

Having fun with Moi before he left for Kenya.

Ready for some grub, as Lucho looks on.

With Anna and the BEAUTIFUL quilt she made for Elsa.

Checking out the Lucho square.

Costco lunch.

Costco lunch.

Everything goes into the mouth these days.

Playing with ice cubes = new favorite activity.



Holding hands with Daddy.

Holding hands with Daddy.

Flavor breakfast. With the shaved head we look even more alike.


Mother's Day!!!

Mother's Day!!!

Mother's Day!!!

Mother's Day!!!

At Mi Ciudad, bye bye dinner for Erin O.

Gonna miss you so much, Erin O.!!!


Check out those cheeks.


Cardboard box = great toy.

More fun with the cardboard box.

Standing up in the crib. Plotting her escape, no doubt.


Surprise visit from our old buddy Lut.

Drying off.

All good things, even bath time, must come to an end. Or so they say.

Playing while Lucho snuggles the laundry.

So much cuteness in the room.

This is Elsa's new gym membership.

Bath time again.

Rock star hair.

Daddy's shirt after bath time. We like to splash.

Crawling on the mirror.

Won't be able to do this much longer - she will smash the mirror.

Her TB scar (a.k.a. "mexi-stamp" - trademark Angie Stryker) is shaped just like a heart!!!

We climbs stairs now. Time to put the gates up.

She still thinks crayons are for eating, so we don't play with those very much...

First time opening a cabinet. Time to put the locks on.

We read somewhere that it's good to leave one cabinet unlocked for them to open and explore...

...which we are planning on doing. After we remove the pyrex and probably change out a lot of noisy metal for quieter plastic stuff.

Always exploring.

Hanging out with our friend Sam. In Utah he is known as Jack. You'll have to ask him to explain.

We play hard and we sleep hard. Saturday afternoon snoozin' while Mommy and Daddy eat chalupas and drink ice-cold Co'colas.

Until next time. Thanks to all of you who care about our family and keep us in your prayers. We love and miss you and hope to see many of you while Stateside in July.