Saturday, January 23, 2010

Change of Seasons

Just as sure as the seasons were made for change...

I went from a balmy 75 degree day in Guatemala, blue skies, beautiful weather and an AMAZING time with my family. Serving and loving others, building a home for the Ortiz, and a sweet time with the kiddos at Los Gozosos that we've come to adore... It was by far the best New Year that I've ever experienced.

Contrast that with touching down in Houston, on our way back home to Nashville, and getting a voicemail from the plane that my beloved Granny Sara was in critical care at UT Medical Center.

We flew back home and were welcomed with bitter cold weather, gloomy skies, and a change of seasons that I was very unprepared for...
my heart felt very unprepared...

I tend to think in metaphors... and, I cannot seem to shake this one.
I mean, it's no coincidence that this blog is was titled "Blossom-ing"...

For every Spring there is a Winter.
I'm not a fan of Winter.
If I could, I would live in that Spring-like weather all of the time.

Update:  My beloved Granny Sara went to heaven on January 26th, 2010.  I was in the room with my Mama, Aunt Carol, & Aunt Kim when she died.  It was peaceful... beautiful... & sad.  We prayed over her body, we cried & we laughed...

...then, I looked out the hospital room window as snow started falling from the sky...

I miss her so much, it hurts.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Han Solo, Carrot Cake, and Jesus

This is Tony Crabtree signing on for the Blossom-ing blog. Have you ever experienced a moment so powerful that it almost leaves you scared to try to put into words, just for the shear fact that you know your words will fall short? Well, I've been blessed with the gift yet daunting task of trying to accurately portray what happened with our family yesterday. Forgive me if I'm long winded, however, yesterday was an interaction that will leave me undoubtably changed forever.

My nephew Mac, Kristin and Darrell's son, is a huge Star Wars fan right now, having recently graduated from the days of Thomas the Tank Engine. Whenever I saw those movies I was hit with the picture of Light v Dark. Good v Evil. Hope v Despair. Just the mention that there exists a Force that can't be seen, but yet is somehow making everything move in the galaxy is an idea I can't help but consider without thinking of the Holy Spirit. My friend Matt once asked me who I thought the "HERO" of the movie was. I thought,'s got to be Luke Skywalker. He's the golden boy. Or maybe you could even argue that it's Darth Vader who in the very end turns to the light side and destroys evil just before his death. Matt told me those are obvious choices, however, he's always thought of Han Solo as the real hero. He's a guy who came in and sacrificed everything he had, for a mission he had no business being apart of. He came out of nowhere, and without him, Darkness would have undoubtably prevailed. Something to chew on for sure... and yesterday, I couldn't stop thinking about that. Let me take you through our day.

We first set off to see the new Ortiz home that we had put two days work into. We saw the progress (They're almost ready to move in! Only a few more trucks of dirt to fill in the floor!), and we said our goodbye's to the workers and kids. Later that afternoon, the Ortiz family invited us to their current home for an authentic Guatemalan meal.

We arrived at their street, which by the way is a LONG few mile bike ride uphill into the town where they work and go to school. Next, we made the steep uphill hike into their home. Veronica, the mother, put out her best for us. The nice plates, silverware, and tablecloth. And a steak dinner to feed 15. I was blown away at how they served the very BEST of all they had to offer.

Above is a picture of a journal with song lyrics. After we enjoyed the meal, Veronica surprised us in the beautiful way she unveiled her heart. She had written us a song, which was sung with deeper passion than I've might have ever witnessed. I am sure the video will make it to this blog eventually. She was singing to God, a song of gratitude for the way He provides hope. When our friend Victor translated the lyrics for us, their were several of us in tears. When he read, "I thank you for your servants who listen to you..." I almost lost it. After all, all of this started with an unexplained voice calling my sister to listen.


Next we heard from Estuardo, Veronica's husband. He shared his story to us. With tears he explained how his dad had told him from the beginning that he would amount to only a thief... a vulnerability that Mayra told us she had never experienced from him. The thing about Estuardo is that he loves to bake. Cakes are his specialty, and he prepared for us the best carrot cake I've ever had. And I don't like carrot cake. It was good. Real good. He also showed us his gift with the whipped cream decorating. A gift he eagerly and earnestly wants to use to reveal God's glory.

You see, Estuardo has lived a tough life. He has without a doubt not helped his cause either. He's a guy in desperate need of a second chance. I feel so blessed to have a God of Second Chances. He's a God of ESPERANZA. It being New Year's Eve, our deepest hope is that the new home we helped provide would be, along with other things, a catalyst for hope for this family's life. I believe that Estuardo never really believed he was worth all of this. You could tell. Veronica too. Yet we have a God who craves the opportunity to lavish us with how much we matter to Him. Darrell hit the nail on the head too when he told Estuardo that his family is his ultimate pastry. They are a gift from God to decorate and treasure and present. I felt lucky to talk to him as well and share that he is in desperate need for men to encourage him in his faith. PLEASE pray that God would provide these men in Estuardo's life.

It mattered that we were there. I mean how often do ten people sacrifice and leave behind life to chase after the one lost sheep out of the 99. I thought of Han Solo and how we really appeared to have come from nowhere...

However, it was Christ that came from out of nowhere. He placed us there. And I'm thankful for Him being the Han Solo of my life as well. I was a mess, living in a square room, and he came from across the universe to find me. I think of this lovely woman Mayra, a Han Solo to the children and families of this town. My sister... who listened to something crazy that God told her when everyone asked, "Why Guatemala?"... My mom. My dad. My wife. A 63 year old man named Renaldo. A 12 year old boy who loves his mother enough to stand up to his dad. My whole family really.

I'm thankful that Christ is my Han Solo, who would stop at nothing to restore the Galaxy from the powers of the Dark Side.


Esperanza for the New Year

A new house...

... is so much more than just a house. It's a new start. A new beginning. A new life.

All of this, just in time for the New Year is no coincidence.

The Ortiz have Esperanza.

Hope for the New Year, Hope for a new beginning, and Hope for a new Life.

Feliz Ano Nuevo mi amigos...

Hope Full,