What Frames My World

I sit here in the night time silence and remember.

The air hung swollen that day, pregnant with rains ready to be delivered.  The dry blowing out with fits and bluster begrudgingly making way for the wet to come.

I watched the winds blow the first real cloud cover we had seen in months onto our evening horizon.

That evening I wrote a story in pixels to send to “Grandmother” and “Grandfather” in America. (I bet my parents never guessed they’d have QUITE so many grand babies!)  I must say I have raised camera happy children a world away.  They are anything but shy of the lens.  And a few of them are maestros behind it as well!

We sat in the fading light huddled together with bursts of giggles over silly shots and dramatic poses.  I managed to sneak in a few “keepers” too.

All at once my crutches went walking away without me, held hostage by my then almost four year olds.  ”Eh” I call out, “ITA- ita silu de, ita be arfa wa gobadu ana.”

Everyone dissolves into laughter as I tell my preschoolers:  “You, if you take my crutches, you will have to pick me up and carry me. ”  I think they strongly considered my response a challenge.  I can only hop so far on one leg.  {But oh how they have carried me these years in their prayers.  Now feisty first graders, they carry me still.  I am humbled to tears by a love so big it reaches across continents and oceans.}

I watched them turn the crutches I lean on into picture frames for my lens.  I snapped away arresting time, freezing moments in place.  I didn’t want the light to leave.  I held it captive with my shutter and refused its departure.

Could the very thing the enemy meant to disable and destroy become that which frames the greatest release of God’s glory in our lives?

Some of you know my broader story.  Born too early with multiple birth defects, 23 surgeries by age 13; standing on one leg, 2 crutches and an eternity of grace.

I have watched God turn the things meant to take me out into that which He has used to bring me in. Again and again and again.  Into slums in India, leper colonies that refused any other witness.  Into hostile trash dumps in Africa and onto national stages in Central Asia.  Most of all, deeper into His heart.  I am certain the enemy is regretting his efforts because every single one of them has backfired– his current attempts included.

Do I think it is God’s perfect plan for me to have one leg?  Absolutely, categorically not.  Do I know God is a good Papa who works ALL things together for my good?  I stake my very life on it.

The limitations, challenges and obstacles that could disable me, when submitted to Jesus, become the very things that frame the greatest displays of His goodness in and through my life.

Impossibilities are His greatest invitations. Miracles can’t exist without them. {And how we are trusting for a miracle now, a miracle as big as our growing family from all over the world.  We are radically trusting for each and every one of our children in South Sudan to be fully sponsored so we can keep our doors flung wide… }

Let me ask you my friends: what crutches, what challenges are you holding onto that God is waiting to turn into a picture frame for His beauty to be revealed in your life?

All He needs is your YES.  He really will do the rest.

Michele Perry: Artist, Author, Executive Coach & Founder of Iris Ministries work in South Sudan
blog: From the Unpaved Road | twitter: @micheleperry | work: Iris South Sudan | USA: Create 61, Edge Creative Consulting, LLC

My Job Description

The trees.  They know how to lift their arms to heaven and let go.

Autumn comes late to Florida. All the way in early December.  I watch the old season as it turns gold, catches flame and surrenders to the wind.  Our autumn comes in an instant and usually lasts less than a week.  It reminds me how suddenly seasons can change.

A little over six years ago I showed up site unseen in the middle of a war zone in Central Africa.  On Christmas day, I flung wide the rickety gates of my newly rented compound, welcomed home my first 12 children and served Christmas dinner for 1,000.  It was a path paved in miracles and Jesus coming where I least expected Him.

Almost six years later, our base is established on 40 acres of our own land. One of my greatest joys was to turn the keys over to an integrated field team of indigenous leaders, missionaries, and some of my first children {who came a little older to our family}.  They have grown up, been trained, and returned to serve.  That brings tears to a mama’s eyes.

I initially came to my adopted nation with a hunger to find the hurting and the broken and to love them well…. To give away all I had so they could fly higher and farther than I could or would.  I came with a job description to love and to learn, go low and slow and do only what I see my Papa in heaven doing.

In September I moved back to my childhood home in Florida.  I continue to serve my precious family in South Sudan, raising awareness as a founder so often does.  I look forward to when I next visit and can spend the long hot days hugging my babies.

The transition back to the USA was in many ways far harder than the one going the other way.  Between my 18th bout of cerebral malaria soon upon arriving back and then a terrible dental mishap that electrified my mouth and blew out my trigeminal nerve, it has been quite a welcome back!

I returned with a longing to live out what I was learning there, hereCould the same simple faith and relentless love of Jesus work here too?  Was it really just about stopping for the one person He set in front of me every day?

In the weeks since I relocated, we have a vibrant growing family here who wants to find out what missional community looks like here.  Not a strategy session, not a project to fix people’s problems, or worse fix people themselves.  Not complicated theory, but an intentional journey to the margins of our community. 

I found out this weekend in our small county alone there are 900 children in our school system registered as homeless.  There are multiple camps set up for the homeless.  There is a growing problem with human trafficking.  Suddenly my lessons of holding the broken and learning to be a friend to the outcast didn’t seem foreign at all.

All mission is local.  All ministry is local.  Your organization can be global and international in its scope and vision, but missions can only be lived out right where you are. 

My heart is leaping this morning.  I feel like my Papa in heaven has given me the best gift ever.  In a season of looking for presents, He has extended an invitation to be present among the invisible and overlooked hurting ones right in my midst.

I am reminded. My address has changed. My job description has not.

So my friend, what have you considered your job description to be in missions?  Look at your calendar and it will give you a pretty good idea. 😉 Take some time ask Jesus if He would like to speak to you about His heart for your daily purpose right where you are.

Michele Perry: Artist, Author, Executive Coach & Founder of Iris Ministries work in South Sudan
blog: From the Unpaved Road | twitter: @micheleperry | work: Iris South Sudan | USA: Create 61, Edge Creative Consulting, LLC