One of the most disturbing things I’ve ever read

I love life. I do not like death. There is a spirit behind death which is demonic. Yuck. I’ve seen it in “martyr’s monuments” in Palestine; I’ve seen it in the eyes of people tormented by suicidal thoughts; I’ve seen it on dictators’ faces; and I’ve seen it creeping the streets of my beloved Baghdad, Iraq. Killing is evil and it should never be welcomed.

Abortion is a way of killing babies. I know there are many emotional journeys which lead people to choose abortion, things horrendously difficult, and often full of death as well, but this does not justify killing anyone.

All to say,

I really think you should read this book excerpt (HERE) written by a woman who ran a Planned Parenthood clinic.

Pretty Baghdad

“Pretty” and “Baghdad” aren’t often paired together, despite the truth that Baghdad is very pretty. Beauty is in the eye of the Beholder. God is the Ultimate Beholder. How He sees cities is how they really are. God sees potential in cities. He sees giftings. He sees dreams and destinies, hopes and visions. He wants cities to shine.

I like this illustration of Baghdad because it is very pretty.

I hope it helps people re-see that precious city and its precious people.

Making the Impossible Possible – TEDx Baghdad

While I was in Baghdad, Iraq in November 2011 there was a conference called, “Making the Impossible Possible.” I was given an invitation to attend, but our schedule did not permit. Regardless, the event was a milestone of HOPE for precious Iraq. There will be another TEDx event in Baghdad in 2012. I would LOVE to attend.

In the meantime, I think their videos and related videos provide a great view into the GOOD happening in Iraq. Please do not let your hearts be overwhelmed by what you hear in the news about Iraq. Dare to have outrageous HOPE for Iraq. Direct your thoughts and prayers toward optimistic growth in Iraq. The people of Iraq need your advocacy, not that you would write them off as hopeless, but rather champion them as HOPE-ful despite the look of things.

There is always hope.




Great Memories from TEDx Baghdad 2011

ICARE’s video for TEDx Baghdad 2011

Baghdad . . . the city of peace

The Virtual Museum of Iraq

The TEDx Baghdad website

One Thousand Gifts – Tell me what YOU are thankful for!

As the New Year grins its slightly secretive, mostly extroverted grin, it is a good time to plop into a thankfulness beanbag and meditate on the gifts already in one’s life. It’s a good time to observe blessings and pick them up: like caterpillars on a walk in the woods: think about their many legs, their funny fur, their itsy-bitsy eyes, their specific place in the universe, their unique role in the ecosystem.

Be outlandishly thankful. I once read a quotation that was something like, “If you want to see a promise sprout, bury it in thanksgiving.” THAT is a great image!

Here are some things I am recently thankful for:

1. Hearing a helicopter at night and remembering my time in Baghdad

2. Serendipitously running into a friend and having lunch with her

3. My desk: a friend gave it to me and it’s larger than my last one

4. Having English as my first language: it’s useful and makes me more travel-ready

5. Fingernails. I think my fingers would be able to do a lot less if their tips were more squishy.

6. Having a dishwasher

7. My sister Dori is dating a Palestinian. (It’s so amazing to have the Middle East IN my family.)

8. My sister Dana & her husband work with kids full-time. This keeps them ultra-creative and fun.

9. The internet. I can keep in communication with friends all over the globe.

10. Knowing we are going glory to glory.

11. Hot water

12. The option of buying chemical-free dishwashing detergent.

13. The small tree outside my apartment. It’s sweet.

14. My car. It’s 20 years old and still alive and adventurous.

15. Living near a river.

16. Growing an appreciation for sparkly things.

17. Being able to read Arabic (albeit slowly).

18. Two people this week used their own gift certificates to buy me lunch. The gift that keeps on giving.

19. Being part of pastors’ prayer at my church

20. The archways on my apartment building.

21. Having spent two years in Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry. It’s like having learned a new language.

22. Friends who broaden my perspectives.

23. The online catalog of my local library.

24. Freedom.

25. My parents’ courage to support me whilst I go to war zones.

I would LOVE it if you would share 5-25 things YOU are thankful for in the comments below. THANKS!

More thankfulness inspiration here:

And if you want to join Ann Voskamp’s JOY DARE check out January’s Joy Dare

YOU are a reformer

Weeks ago I was in Baghdad: a city of my dreams, my blood, my hope. As often happens after great success, there is a gentle tapering, a daily walking, a calm thinking: from this place where and when – upward and onward: what does it now look like?

I am waiting for the timing to return to Iraq. I am choosing to enter God’s rest. I have zillions of thoughts, like Styrofoam peanuts charged with static-electricity, they awkwardly seem to go everywhere and yet, nowhere simultaneously. I am fireworks on a boat in a bay, waiting for the next great sea voyage. The voyage is what I was born for, made for, prepared for. Ships are “safe” in harbor, but not designed for staying.

The tension hurts. The waiting, at times, feels horrible. Romans 5 tells me perseverance produces character and character produces hope; but the excruciating pain of the development of this particular brand of fortitude challenges me to decide how much I truly believe this truth. It REALLY challenges me. In many moments I feel so far from seeing the answers it is laughable, yet I feel those answers like I feel God: for they are in Him. Today I was driving through the mountains of Yosemite with my family. I pictured myself as God’s lung: filled with Him, filled with Him to the degree I would allow Him to breathe deeply of me.

I sometimes think about inhaling Him less deeply. Then I realize, yet again, I am lovesick. I can’t stop. He’s got my heart: hook, line, and sinker. So, I keep letting Him be breath to me, invisible life to my physical life. The collision of the unseen and the seen smarts almost daily: it cuts against me like icy wind on cheekbones down a ski slope. Intimacy can be downright gut-wrenching, especially with consummate lovers like God.

So, I keep on keeping on. And in my resting the fire gathers fresh color. Jeremiah’s notion about God as a fire in one’s bones both terrifies and liberates me, because I know I would do anything for His capital “L” Love.

I am too much like Him to let Him go. And He is also too much like Himself to let me go.

He’s radical. (I laugh.) His radical-ness is what got me into this situation: His character has rubbed off on me quite irrevocably.

<Oh, God. GOD! Your creativity has left us undone. For Your Name’s sake we remain thus. For the sake of the world we live thus. Well done, God. You have made us well. We are like you. And revolution is here; and coming.>



This is no sacrifice, here’s my life

Some days I am immensely thankful for the power of a heavenly perspective. When things are not as one prefers, when the cost is high, when isolation is tangible, and when the gap between now and then feels full of LONG seconds.

Today I heard the following song by Jason Upton and I was brought back to a moment in 2005 when I was at a One Thing Conference in Boston, Massachusetts. Jason was leading worship. I was suddenly overcome with love and compassion for the Middle East.  I laid on the floor face down and sobbed, praying for the Middle East to know Jesus; and praying for my path into the Middle East to be clear and easy, strategic and powerful. Then Lou Engle walked on stage and said something like, “I feel like we are supposed to be praying for the Middle East, for Muslims to meet Jesus, and for terrorists to encounter God.” The patch of wet carpet beneath my eyes grew.

Now I am in Baghdad, Iraq making new decisions about surrender, faith, and love. As always, I’m holding onto promises and I’m holding on to The Promiser. I am thankful I have learned not only to trust God, but to delight in Him.

Moreover, I know through and through that He is worth it all.

If I had two fists full of marbles, I’d give them all to Him.

If I had a closet full of dollars, I’d give them all to Him.

If I had a mountain made of ideas, I’d give them all to Him.

If I had a life full of life, I’d give it all to Him.

And so I will. With consummate love and outrageous hope, I will continue to give Him my life.

It is wonderful to be able to give Jesus my life! haha! What sheer delight! What thrill! What joy!

It’s all for His glory. HIS GLORY!!!!!! GLORY!!!!!

I love His GLORY!

On top of all that, here is one of my favorite songs about my favorite person: God.

And Steffany Frizzell’s thoughts on worship

Baghdad: “It’s just what I always wanted!”

“It’s just what I always wanted!”

There is a famous Richardson family video in which I am eight years old and enthusiastically opening Christmas gifts in the sprawl of wrapping paper, sisters, and new toys on our living room floor. Upon the opening of many of the gifts I look at my dad with wild joy and exclaim, “It’s just what I always wanted!”  There is a measure of surprise in my voice, as if I am in awe that my parents knew what I wanted and got it for me.

Lately, I often think of that video as I delight in God. I finally got to unwrap one of the biggest gifts last week upon my landing in Baghdad, Iraq. Even though I’ve seen it sitting under the tree wrapped for 16 years, I’m still caught in wonder as I see that not only did God know I wanted it, but He got it for me! He really is a good father who gives good gifts to His kids.

This summer my youngest sister freshly observed that I am one of the people she finds it most easy to imagine as a kid, because my delight and childlikeness remains.  This is wonderful. After all these years, through struggle, through disappointment, and through success, I’ve remained Daddy’s girl. And I know it.

So, here I am in Baghdad, more than any other dream in my life, the dream to live in a war zone in the Middle East and see deserts turn into gardens is the one I’ve most thought about, dreamed about, and prayed about. God has shown Himself faithful and loving: not only to me, but to this nation. He loves this nation wholeheartedly, as He loves me wholeheartedly.  He is eager to give Iraq the Christmas gifts she’s always wanted.

And He will.

And her laugh will untie the ribbon, her eyes will pull back the wrapping, and her hands will grab hold of the gift. She’ll look at Her Father in joy. She’ll know she is the delight of His heart. And she will know she is worth the price paid.

I love this place so much. Yesterday we were driving in Baghdad and I had a moment when I realized why many friends said prior to my leaving, “I want to make sure I say ‘goodbye’ in case you never come back.” They were only partially joking. I shrugged off their words then, but now I realize they were on to something substantial. I want to see this place flourish and I’m ready to commit and invest my life in her Christmas day.

Being part of the Father’s desire to give gifts to the nations is absolutely worth it, whatever the cost, whatever the journey. The ecstasy of seeing nations open up their Christmas gifts is one of the best rewards I could ever imagine.

Merry Christmas Iraq! Father God is going to dazzle you with gifts in 2012!

I’m in Baghdad!

descending into beautiful Baghdad

I’m here!!!!! I’ve dreamed of being in Baghdad for 16 years;

and I’ve prayed for this place and its people just as long.

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick,

but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.”

Proverbs 13:12

I think a forest of life sprouted and sprang to full height the second my feet hit the ground.
And I shall run wildly and walk peacefully through this forest forever.          
Photo album here: