Half -Naked and Picking Weeds Part 3

(Please note: If you haven’t read part 1 and 2 of Half Naked and Picking Weeds, I suggest you scroll down and read those first as this is a continuation of it.)

 

I asked Vanessa what she wanted everyone to know. Before the words slipped from her lips, she closed her eyes to concentrate on forming them. “Every day counts,” she said. “I want them to know, every day counts.”

   Every day counts. Even the humdrum days?  Even the days when the kids are driving us cray-cray?  Even the days we can’t wait to slam our bedroom door and disappear under the cool sheets because the to-do list whipped our butts? Even that day when her head is wrapped in cold rags and she has to wear sunglasses because her eyes hurt from a cancerous tumor pushing against her skull? She would tell you…yes, even that day.

            I’m convinced there are days of our lives that count more than others. They weigh more in value on eternity’s scale.

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          The doctor didn’t lie when he said rotator cuff surgery was painful. I’d given birth to four children and after surgery the pain sent me moaning on the floor rocking back and forth. He’d stated my arm was so tore up it looked like an eighty- year old woman’s with an old tear and new. For six weeks, my arm was in a bulky sling and I couldn’t hold my baby, so I borrowed Vanessa’s arms.

            You can’t help but get personal with someone who’s loving your baby. Her affection for Bella built the foundation of our friendship… our sisterhood. One day she casually mentioned that she worshipped the Hindu gods, Allah, and the Christian God.

            I laughed. “What are you doing covering all your bases?” I said.

            “Oh my gosh!” She burst out laughing. “Yes, I want to be sure I get it right. Besides, I think they’re all the same anyway.”

            “You should look into the characteristics of each of them, that’s how you’ll know if they are the same,” I said. “I think you’ll find the Christian God is far more personal. He’s the only one out of the bunch that gave His life for mankind. He’s the only One who loves us whether we love him or not.”

            I walked her out that day and knew when I closed the door, God just opened one.

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Doors in Rome, Italy

            The next afternoon, “So, how do you worship all three gods?” I said.

       “I have three altars in my apartment. I’m drawn to the Christian God, so I go to church on Sunday, but I have a Hindu altar, an Allah altar, and an altar with a cross. I pray at each.”

            “What do you pray about?”

            “I just want some direction you know?  I want to know what I should be doing in my future,” she said. “I’d like to use my experience with cancer for something good now that I’m healed.”

          It amazes me when God opens a door. Sometimes, it’s just a crack, while other times it is thrown open so wide the light is blinding. Soon after, over the phone my father told me what he taught in Sunday school that week, the story of Paul’s travel to Athens.

            “When Paul arrived in Athens he noticed all the gods and altars scattered around the city,” Daddy said. “but there was one altar titled the “Unknown god,” and Paul stood before them and told them about that God, our God. You see, baby, they were trying to cover all their bases, as many people do today, but in doing that, they are lost.” (Acts 17: 16-34)

I was blinded by the light.

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The next day, Vanessa sat across from me at the kitchen table. Praying she’d understand, I slid my open Bible across the table. “Before you go, I want you to read something.” I pointed to the passage.

            After she finished, her eyes widened. “Oh my gosh! That’s me!” she said.

            “You said, you were praying for guidance and for your next purpose in life. How can God lead you if you haven’t made Him Lord?”

            She nodded.

            “I don’t want you to do anything for me, but you need to think about that,” I said. “God will never lead you if He’s not in the lead.”

            She promised to think about it. I wasn’t there the day Vanessa chose to make Jesus Christ her Lord. God placed the seeds in my hands, I pushed them under the soil, and moved on to tend to the weeds of life, but God sent others to water it.

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            After I recovered, Vanessa remained Bella’s babysitter one day a week until Bella started preschool.  Jay, my husband, then hired Vanessa to work at the office for him and his brother Shaun. She was so happy to be back behind a desk. One Thursday morning, Jay stopped by her counter.

            “Why are you sitting there?” Jay said. “Come join our Abiding study in the conference room.”

            “Really?” She jumped up and followed him.

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Vanessa’s desk at the office.

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            She sat in a men’s Bible study every Thursday morning learning how to Abide in Christ. Between Jay and Shaun his brother, Vanessa had two very determined men pouring Jesus into her on a daily basis. She told them she’d made the decision to accept Jesus Christ as Lord.

            It was then…the cancer returned.

            Last week, I wanted to hear from her own lips she’d made a decision. I swabbed her bald head with a cold cloth. Our relationship had come full circle I was now at her home.

            “The last time we discussed God, you told me you’d think about it. Did you?” I said.

            “Yes, I chose Christ.” she said.

            “Did you tell Him that? Ask Him to take your life?” I said.

            “Yes, I did.”

            “You’re undertaking the most important assignment of your life, but you know that don’t you?” I said squeezing her hand.

            Vanessa nodded. “I do.”

            “You are just as much a sister to me as Tricia was. Our relationship is eternal.”

            “Really?” she said.

            “Yes, in fact if Tricia wasn’t a Christian you’d be more of a sister to me.” I hugged her.

 IMG_2962       I’ve never seen a faith so strong in someone so new to it. How does she know He’s a loving God when as soon as she gave her life to Christ, her cancer returned? I’ve pondered this. I’ve asked God why didn’t He allow her some healthy years to use her faith for Him.

Then, I glance at Vanessa she’s filled with a peace that is not human. She knows God loves no matter what she’s going through. If anything in this life can give us comfort, it’s this…our circumstances are never indicative of God’s love.

            What a relief! Having a bad day? God loves you! Husband’s left you? God loves you. Your son has passed away? God loves you! Your addicted to drugs or alcohol? God loves you. You’re sick with cancer? God loves you. Praying to the Hindu gods or Allah? God loves you right where you are. Vanessa’s proof of that.

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            It’s time to harvest at the farm. There are rows of heavy vegetables curling the stems. I don’t know about you, but there’s something satisfying about snapping them off and filling a bucket. We load them in the back of the ATV and drive them up to the farmhouse. In the sink, we wash them one by one, preparing them for the job they were born to do. Nourish.

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            Just like those vegetables waiting to be plucked off the vines, Vanessa’s story will become someone else’s spiritual nourishment. In time, someone will be walking ankle deep in the dirt and weeds of this world and feeling empty. They’ll wonder is this all there is to life? They’ll witness the light and color of a young woman’s faith and want to consume the invitation of salvation for themselves. The circle of life is eternal.

When Vanessa’s time comes, I’m so sure Tricia will run up and greet her at the gates of heaven. “Vanessa! I’ve been waiting for ya. What took you so long?” She’ll give her a hug with a hard pounding on the back. “Welcome home, sister. Welcome home.” She’ll wrap her arm around her shoulders. “So you gotta tell me, is Tammy fat? I sure hope so.”

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If you would like to donate to Vanessa Raghubir’s Go Fund Me Page, please click on the link below. She is in need of some financial aid. The Go Fund Me page needs to be updated it is from her first diagnoses of brain cancer, but the need is even greater with the second. Thank you and God bless you for helping someone you don’t even know.

https://www.gofundme.com/i3nnns

Seeds of Love…Seeds that Change

 

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“Love is a fruit in season at all times, and within reach of every hand.” Mother Teresa

            We’ve been supporting Abilaisha through Compassion International since she was wee thing, now she’s fifteen. What happens to a ripe, innocent girl in India when Christian funding is forced out? Those that sleep on the concrete, untouchable floor of the Caste system are often sold, used, and abused. I didn’t get to say goodbye to a girl who called me Momma in her letters. Abilaisha was abandoned.

Compassion International has been serving the poor children of India for 48 years through an American sponsorship program. According to Guardian, since the election of Prime Minister Modi and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) who ran on a promise to rid the country of corruption and to promote Hinduism as the National religion, twenty-five, foreign-funded charities have been forced out. There is a fear by Modi and the BJP, India will lose its Hindu culture, and Compassion International is setting out to convert Hindus to Christianity. Compassion President and CEO Jimmy Mellado denies this accusation, for Compassion International has only worked with already established Christian churches to help them feed, clothe, and educate their needy. Undoubtedly, this shut down is allowing India’s Christian impoverished to slip through the geysers created by its political climate.

According to Open Doors an organization that raises awareness of Christian persecution around the world, since Modi’s election there is also a rise of Christian persecution in India.  Churches are being burned, pastors beaten, and out of the 64 million Christians, approximately 39 million have reported suffering direct persecution.

What will happen to my Christian daughter Abilaisha?

One ordinary day, I was complaining about laundry and dishes and boys dirty socks scattered about, when a letter arrived. I recognized Abilaisha’s foreign script and turned over for the translator’s version. Inside, I read the words carefully printed in pencil.

A typhoon hit her village, wiped out everything. Both her parents had Typhoid Fever and she was caring for them in a small tent. Then, as if nothing in her world was falling apart, she asked about me and told me she prays blessings on me every single day. Me, her spoiled American Momma. No complaining or pity party splattered her page. You see, she’s used to this life, used to the struggle, the hunger, the fraying of her hem, the holes in her shoes, but being used to it doesn’t make it okay.

I tracked down her village on goggle, tons of trees doted with small dwellings. I thought it would make me feel closer, but as I stalked her like a hawk from above, it had the opposite effect. She’s there, somewhere in a tiny hut, and I’m here in a palace. Our worlds lie far apart and I am humbled by my blessings and helplessness.

I stressed my concern to Prem my Indian sister-in-law with indignation, “Why doesn’t India do something to help their poor?”

“Honestly Tammy, the problem is so big. There is so much corruption and so many poor,” She shrugged, “where would you even start?”

I suppose the disciple Thomas felt that way. He was naturally a doubter, wanting to place his fingers in the holes of Christ’s hands to believe His resurrection. When Thomas reached the vast land of India, I imagine he felt a bit overwhelmed. Eventually, he died there, speared in a village like Abilaisha’s, but not before converting many for the gospel. If he hadn’t started Abilaisha may never have received the good news of a God who loves her unconditionally.

Heres where I find my starting point, planting seeds of love.

Although, she’ll probably never read this, this is my love letter for a little Indian girl named Abilaisha, which I’ve lost to a government that doesn’t want me to help her. I ask everyone who reads this to pray for Abilaisha and all the Indian children,  for their safety, their needs to be met, and their unfaltering faith. We have to start somewhere.

 

Note: In order to protect Abilaisha, her last name and village has not been included in this post.

There is a great need for the sponsorship of children around the world. If you would like to become a spiritual momma or daddy to those less fortunate, please consider sponsoring a child by contacting www.compassioninternational.com.

For more information on Christian persecution: www.opendoors.org