For my daughter: be kind

Be kind, little girl.
Life is hard
but it is also sweet.
Learn to see
past categories.
I know how you feel–
you feel insignificant, small
and fearful to fall,
and like maybe it’s not making any difference at all,
but, little girl, stand tall,
for it takes many bricks to build up a wall.
Be resilient and fond
of quirkiness.
You don’t have to belong
and that makes you strong,
so shake the earth
climb a mountain
break a wall
write a song
cross a sea
tell a story
for words
are
powerful.
Little girl, listen to mine.
Don’t be afraid to lay it all on the line,
for your mind outshines
the stars.
You were designed for the light;
don’t be defined by what is behind.
Let go, and fill your lungs with Everest air;
taste the dewdrops, play with bears.
Never let love fall into disrepair.
Don’t stop and wait for a trumpet fanfare
when all it takes is climbing stairs.
Always give thanks for simple fare,
and hold fast to the promises.
Be honest, astonished
at the mighty and the small.
Stand tall,
and be kind.
See the people,
listen well.
Each of them has a story to tell;
You’ll be surprised how you change yourself.
Look for needs
and introduce yourself to strangers.
But I know–
It’s not safe,
You have habits to break
And time it will take
And there’s things in the way
Your path’s never been straight
And besides, you’re not brave
You’ll just make mistakes
And all you want is escape
from the maze
and the chase and the haze,
and the days
only feel longer
and the darkness gets stronger
You feel outnumbered, surrounded
but stay grounded
cause girl, you are a songbird
so sing your song from the tops of trees
Embrace grace, and fly free.
He sees every sparrow,
so feel the air flow
underneath your eagles’ wings
as you’re raised on the wind
and the mountains ring.
Be kind.
Learn to see
and to be
faithful in the mundane, everyday.
Don’t complain, but be grateful and humble.
Though the earth rumbles,
if you stumble, he will catch you.
Delight in his Word
and make a habit of right.
Practice love and dwell in the light.
Keep his face in sight.
There is no mountain that’s too tall to climb.
Seek to find, use your mind,
and be kind.
For you’d be surprised
how the little things might make a difference
beyond just this instance.
So be persistent,
go the distance,
for you were born to be a path-maker
culture-shaper
world-shaker
wall-breaker
change-creator.
Be faithful and playful
Live life with a grateful mind
and always be brave, bold
and kind.

A Real Kind of Faith

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According to the Voice of the Martyrs website, Iraq had 1.5 million Christians in 2003. However, that number is now down to roughly 400,000. In the last 11 years, more than two-thirds of Iraq’s Christians fled, emigrated, or were killed. This is largely due to Islamic military groups like the Islamic State, or ISIS.

Iraq is not alone. Nearly 30 other countries worldwide are religiously “restricted,” meaning that government laws restricting religious freedom lead to Christians being harassed, imprisoned, killed, or deprived of their possessions because of their witness; Christians are also unable to receive Bibles or other Christian literature. In many other places (“hostile” nations), despite government attempts to provide protection for the Christian populations, believers are routinely harassed, beaten, and persecuted by family, friends, neighbors or political groups.

In August of this year, more than 50,000 children and adults were slaughtered in Iraq and Syria because of their faith, and families were/are fleeing from the state into the mountains with nothing. It’s like a second Holocaust. And it’s a scary thought–because it’s real. In fact, it could happen to me. My brother. My sisters. My parents. The people I love, full of vibrant life–a knock on the door and they disappear.

It’s a heavy thought, but one worth considering.

How real is my faith to me? How much am I willing to give up? How serious am I about this?

Christ said that those who lose this life will gain it. He said that the world would hate us because they hated him. He said this world is not our home.

It’s time to believe that. It’s time to start living like that.

This year I’ve realized what the word believe means. It’s not a surface thing. It’s not something you just say when it comes to mind every so often. It’s something that worms its way so much deeper than that, to the very core of who you are. It starts to dwell at the heart of your subconscious, at the root of your soul, and everything you do gets filtered through it without you even realizing it.

It’s also a choice. A choice you have to make, a choice where not choosing is still a choice. You can work to develop it, to shape it, to ingrain it, to internalize it.

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And I believe it. I do. With a conviction that goes deeper than words. I am convinced of a truth that surpasses time and imagination. My God is a God who is real, who is alive, who is in control and at work. Nothing can change it, stop it, block it or twist it.

So I give myself to You. Wholly and completely. Take me, make me, shake me, break me, shape me. I am yours, now and forever. Use me, God. Make me bold for You.

I believe.

–Bre

 

P.S. If you’re interested in supporting the persecuted community, you can check out the Voice of the Martyrs website at persecution.com. You can sign up for their free monthly newsletter, send letters to prisoners and to government officials in other countries, send action packs, help get Bibles into restricted nations, donate financially, and above all, pray. Please, please pray, because prayer has the power to change the world.