This was the first official Thankful Tuesday that you haven’t heard from me. I may fail to bring you my brain on various other days of the week, but on Tuesdays you can usually count on a thankful post.
Today, however, it wasn’t happening. I stayed up late with my brother and sister in law, slept a little later until August stirred, rushed to get the boy to his school by 9, stuffed laundry in the washer and dryer, drove my bro and sis in law to the airport, got lost on the way and frantically called my husband in the state of panic he’s experienced far more often than any man should, hugged them goodbye, picked up August, fed him, read to him, got him to nap, fell asleep (this baby in me is demanding), and then quickly prepared my house for an evening of guests.
Tonight is what I’d really like to talk about this Thankful Tuesday (there are still seven minutes left of Thankful Tuesday right now on the West coast). I had a houseful of guests tonight because last week my friend Jeremy Courtney contacted me to ask for some help. I know Jeremy because his wife, Jessica, and I spent our high school years together. I almost shared on the ‘90s music post about my memories of riding in her Bronco and listening to No Doubt singing “Spiderwebs” on our way to lunch at her house everyday back in ‘96.
Jessica and Jeremy met in college and both felt a calling to the Middle East. I remember a conversation with Jessica in 2000, when she shared with me about their love for Turkey and their desire to live among the Turkish people.
I love seeing beautiful things come out of the dreams God puts in us. Years later, Jessica and Jeremy ended up in Northern Iraq, working among the Kurdish people. After encountering the staggering amount of children being born with congenital heart defects, the Courtneys, together with Cody Fisher, began a non-profit called Preemptive Love Coalition. Their vision for PLC is that it might raise funds to provide (through supplying doctors, medical training and financial opportunities) life-saving heart surgeries for the children of Iraq. So far, 90 children have been given the surgeries they needed.
Last week, Jeremy told me his friend and partner in PLC, Cody, was going to be in San Francisco with his wife, Michelle. (Cody and Michelle met while both working with PLC in Iraq and have been married a year and a half.) So, Chris and I gathered some pizza, some friends, and shared a remarkable night with Cody and Michelle, hearing about this beautiful work going on in Iraq.
In a time when all we seem to hear about is the discord between the “Christian” and the “Muslim” world. When yahoos who want to burn the Koran in the name of Jesus are the only picture most people in the Middle East have of the US or Christianity, Cody and Michelle shared tonight about doing more than simply loving the idea of peace. They described their longing to be “peace-makers.” For them, that means seeking to bring wholeness into the lives of the people they encounter in Iraq. By loving families who are frantically searching for a cure for their dying children, they are slowly building peace between Muslims and Christians. And, as Cody shared tonight, even desperate enemies, like the Kurds and Arabs of Iraq, whose families are waiting for life-saving surgeries for their children, are building peace out of their equal understanding and longing for the health of their children.
As much as I’m continually frustrated and disappointed by the “Christianity” that seeps out of our wrecked culture, my life is full of gleaming beauties: reminders that God is renewing this dark, bitter world, reminders that I believe in hope.
I’m going to bed tonight grateful that there are Jeremys and Jessicas and Codys and Michelles in this world, giving up the comfort of a typical American life in order to build peace in places and lives of brokenness. And I’m going to bed tonight challenged with the thought that I am also called to build peace (wholeness, completion) into the screwed up world and lives around me.
What does it mean to make peace in my home, in my son’s life, in my friendships, in the playground, in my writing? I’m not sure, but I’m thankful that such a calling exists in my simple life and I somehow get to live into it.