Thursday, April 26, 2012

Loving the Messy Bits

So let’s spend our five minutes of writing today, sharing about COMMUNITY. Fight it, love it, hate it, hurt or healed by it, we were certainly built for it.

Set a timer and just write. Don’t worry about making it just right or not.

We couldn't be more different. Yet, every Wednesday we land in the same apartment on the same street in the same city that we have for the past 2 years.

And, it's another version of "home."

We no longer knock. The door's always open. Dress clothes or sweat pants, sweaty, work-out clothes or heels and pencil skirts - we curl up on the couch, cry, laugh and dig in to the only thing that gets us through our crazy, beautiful weeks.

The Word is our mainstay. Our second thing in common.

Over the last 2 years, we've grown in our differences and discovered more similarities - same taste in guys, a love of food, and a preference for FRIENDS.

Some are no longer with us. Others have joined the crew. We morph, we change, but we continue to grow. Our stagnant stages are met with ferocious opinions to fight harder, grow stronger, be better.

Community isn't pretty. Like the clothes we wear through the door, the relationships and experiences we each bring to the table, and our many differences, community is messy. It isn't a pretty package. It's raw, sincere, frustrating, and beautiful.

The command isn't to make everyone FEEL better but to encourage one another to BE better. Community- pushing each other when we want to quit and loving one another through it.

These women influence my life every week, and I'm so thankful!

Linked with the Gypsy Mama.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Dream Big - Are You Ready to Jump?

My feet search for firm footing on the slick steps, winding higher and higher - the blue above growing ever closer than the blue below. Too late to turn back. My heart pounds against my ribs, and my palms slide on the wet rails. I'm certain the kid behind me can hear my erratic pulse, beating like a drum cadence.

My turn.

One foot in front of the other, I step out onto the board. It moves beneath my feet, humming and shifting, sensing my every move. I tiptoe to the edge, the rough sandpaper board scratching my tender feet. The water is far below, the bottom of the 10ft deep floor even farther.

Impossible. "Are you ready to jump?" the lifeguard calls.

Taking the leap to reach our dreams isn't all that different from the first time we jump from the high board. Our dreams seem unreachable, intimidating, yet appealing - a challenge we can't deny, a possibility because we've seen others jump to their dreams.

So why don't we?

In my new job, I have the privilege of working with men and women who have dedicated their lives to serving others. Recently, I interviewed the newest addition to our staff. Out of everything he shared with me, one thing stood out the most:

When we pray God-sized prayers, they often lead to God-sized dreams, which almost always take us to a God-sized ledge.

With a deep breath, I jumped, stretching my body over the beckoning water below. My reward?

A watery cushion and blossoming sense of accomplishment. I did it!

So, you know what I did next?

I jumped again and again and again. Each time, my stomach caught looking over the edge, but the end was always worth it.

Jesus will never take you where He won't go before you. He is the Shepherd who goes before His sheep. He doesn't promise smooth waters, and He doesn't guarantee fulfillment of our dreams the way we planned. They are always risky, and they always cost us something. Do you trust Him? Can see you trust that the reward is greater than your fear?

Big prayers lead to big dreams which leads to a God-sized ledge.

Are you ready to jump?

Friday, April 20, 2012

Together Forever You'll Stay in my Heart

Around here we write for five minutes flat on Fridays - the Gypsy Mama and other writers.

We write because we love words and the relief it is to just write them without worrying if they’re just right or not. Today's word...


Together is my love language. No high maintenance plans, no schedule - just together, spending time, building memories, treasuring the moment.

Sometimes, it's hard to breathe in the city. Hard to be together. Work demands, friends plan, traffic hinders, and my mind races. Time together is wasted trying to catch up to busy.

In West Texas (or anywhere outside of city lines), I can breathe. Wind whips over the cotton-coated plains, the sky arches like a dome, touching the horizon on the flat lands. It's a place of family, faith, country, and work ethic. It's a place of together.

It's a place where baseball or football are time-honored traditions by the community and you come to watch a game simply because your neighbor's best friend's cousin twice removed is playing. Together.

It's a place where you gather after a long day to barbecue, watch the sunrise, and shoot off fireworks from the back of a truck bed in an open field into a sky smeared by the Milky Way. Together.

It's a place of card games, watching FRIENDS, and eating pizza because your brain just can't function any more after a week of finals and projects. Together. 

It's a place where family is family and together is uninhibited by the distractions and demands of home. The simple moments become the memories that last far longer than the fancy dinner you attended last weekend. It's together and home - where simple meets beautiful.

Your turn! What does TOGETHER mean to you?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Dream Big - What You Do Matters

What you do matters.

Positive. Negative. Minor or major.

What you choose to stand for, what you do, how you do it, who are you, who you will be...MATTERS.

Are you planning for someday, or are you making today count? Henry David Thoreau once said, "If you have built castles in the sky, your work need not be lost for that is where they should be. Now put foundations under them."  

It's not enough to simply dream. The American Dream is one of the biggest disservices we have fed our children. No matter how you spin it, the American Dream is always centered around you...your success, your rise to affluence, your glory. 

A dream birthed in the right context is at it's core about changing the world, making an impact, using what you have, who you are to influence. No thought of personal glory or success. If you claim to follow Christ, your desires will match His desires. Never about you. Always about others.

Success as the world defines it is rarely how the Lord defines it. As kids, our dreams are dynamic, unrealistic, huge...yet beautiful. There is a belief that you can be anything because you don't yet understand limitations.

You know the sad thing about growing up? We allow the limitations to steal our dreams. We forget to believe that there is something bigger than us, something bigger to live for - a life that exceeds bills, responsibilities, and frustrations. Don't get me wrong, just this week I wrestled with those things. I wanted to sleep rather than be with friends, turn on the TV and zone out rather than serve, stressed about bills and work and responsibilities rather than praying.

I'm anything but perfect. By myself....I am incapable of perfecting my dreams, of focusing on what's important.

But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9

Those who made a global impact didn't succeed in their own power. Esther became the queen of a foreign land because she was faithful to the Lord and so found favor in the eyes of a pagan king. David was the runt of his family, and God called him a mighty man, a man after God's own heart. Paul was a murdering religious leader who spread the Gospel over the known world. The disciples were dirty fishermen that the Lord transformed into ambassadors. Simple, ordinary people who God chose to do big things with in spite of themselves.

Are you dreaming God-sized dreams? Are you working to fulfill them today at the job you hate or in the classes you are tired of? What you do, what you dream...MATTERS.

Make it count.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Five Minute Friday - Never Good-bye

Time to stop, drop, and write with the Gypsy Mama. Today's word draws memories near and dear to my heart as I move into this summer.


We'd barely said hello, but in two months we'd been knit together - hearts, minds, souls. The kind of friendships bred by choice to share everything, even when it hurts. Friendships refined by fire. Sounds perfect. Is ideal.

One problem.

Good-bye always lurks around every hello. Every day is numbered.

We live all over the country. Transitioning out of college into jobs, careers, pursuing dreams, callings. Every hello is anticipated, celebrated. Good-byes are mourned.

Our last night together threatened to break my heart. I had never experienced that depth of pain, I doubled over in the parking lot, trying desperately to hold it all together. Failing miserably. Once I crossed the lot, once the apartment door closed, the good-bye would be real.

We knew the day would come. One of us counted down our days, reminding us that each was a treasure. Make the most of it. Build memories. Conquer mountains - literally, figuratively. We did it all, cementing the friendship, building strong memories, not fleeting moments.

And we determined, we promised we would never say good-bye. Good-bye is final. Too permanent.

I will always see us as we were that last night - twenty plus crammed in an apartment saying everything and nothing, just being, because everything had already been said. Sealing the moments, treasuring with tears, and hugs and laughter, the kind produced by the idea of a goodbye but affirmed by the knowledge that with these kinds of friendships it is never goodbye.

It is always and forever "see you soon."

Is there a person in your life that you can never say goodbye to?

Friday, April 6, 2012

Light Up My Life

I remember it very clearly - the way light affected me in college. Affects me still. No matter how stressful the day, the sunset stretching from horizon to horizon in the flat, west Texas cotton lands always calmed me. I'd drive, chasing the sunset, relishing the colors, the warmth, the freshness, completeness.

The beauty.

I wonder what the sky looked like on that Resurrection morning. The sky was dark when the Light of the World sacrificed Himself on the cross. But I imagine on that morning, the sky was bright and beautiful, the sunrise brilliant and vibrant.

A display to welcome the risen King of Kings.

When the Light of the World stepped from the tomb, I imagine the sky looked pale in comparison as it bowed to its Creator. Can you imagine the beauty of that day? The excitement as creation buzzed, "He's risen!"

We are the light of the world, cities on a hill that can not be hidden. As I am attracted to the brilliance of a sunlit sky, I pray that I attract others to the Light who lives in me. I serve a risen King, Jesus Christ. His light is mine. May I shine for Him.

Happy Easter! Listen to "We Are" by Kari Jobe and shine your light!

 Copyright Kari Jobe

Linking up with the Gypsy Mama today for 5 minute Friday!