Thursday, August 30, 2012

Ever Changing

It's time for Five Minute Friday where a flash mob of writers join to write purely for the joy of it and then share our thoughts over at Lisa-Jo's. So, set your timer and clear your head for five minutes of free writing without worrying about getting it right. Today's word?

I'm a creature of habit, yet every day is a new adventure, a new lesson in embracing what is thrown my way.


Every stage is marked by it. Every mile of the journey different because of this one little word.

As a young adult, people tell me that I am in a "transient" stage. But, life is transient. There is nothing stable, steady, or static about it. It's fluid.

We are born, We learn to walk, think, speak. We go to school and then transition through grade levels and different measures of knowledge. We graduate high school and are thrown into the big pond of college where we "decide" the rest of our lives at 18. At 22, we are thrown out again. More change - bills, adulthood, marriage, kids, jobs. Life never stops. We are never in stasis.

People aren't cookie cutter creations. We grow, hopefully mature, we move, we make decisions. We change.

Every ounce of life and the universe is marked by this word. At times, I fear it. Yet, I'm coming to embrace it.

I don't know what change will come next. I don't know in what shape it will come or whether I will love or hate it. I have no means to predict. But, I know the One who has charted my course, and I know the road I have chosen to take. It is narrow, and few follow it. But the One leading is good. He knows every bend.

And, I will trust Him for He never changes.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Haiti On My Heart

It's time for Five Minute Friday where a flash mob of writers join to write purely for the joy of it and then share our thoughts over at Lisa-Jo's. So, set your timer and clear your head for five minutes of free writing without worrying about getting it right. Today's word?
Haiti on my mind and Haiti on my heart.

As Hurricane Isaac twists towards Haiti, this resilient nation once again faces impending disaster. I met the people. I fell in love. I partnered with them for a week. I committed to pray for them for a lifetime, if nothing else.

My heart aches for these people. For little Kristine and our translator, Kinsley. For Elizabeth and Chelsea and Mission of Hope.

For the woman in Zorange, barely older than me, but victim to man's lust and mother of a beautiful baby girl. For the old pastor in the village, stooped in posture but proud in spirit.

For Gilbert and his young wife and the people of Titanyen, the village that means "least of the least."

How do we stop a disaster? I cannot stand in front of this hurricane and bear its weight. I can't change the winds or calm the waves. But I know the One who can. I join Haiti and those who love this country in prayer. For a better day. For change. And for protection.

God has great plans for this country. May my prayers be a ripple in the tide of change. Will you join with me in prayer for these beautiful people?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Live Inspired - The Power of Three

Some of the best things in life come in threes....

3 Stoogies
3 Muskateers
3 Blind Mice
3 Wise Men
3 ring circus

3 sides of a triangle
core, mantle, crust
3 primary colors

Father, Son, Holy Spirit
body, mind, spirit
beginning, middle, end

Likewise, many of the most powerful phrases are only comprised of 3 little words...

I love you.
I need you.
I miss you.
I am sorry.
Please forgive me.
I need help.
Jesus loves you.

These phrases express a vulnerability. I don't know about you, but I can't remember the last time I told someone that I needed them and really meant it.

Our words have the power to break hearts or build spirits. Are you using them wisely? Are you communicating authentically and openly with people, especially those closest to you?

"Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person." Colossians 4:6

Try telling someone you love them today. And not the flippant version, but the kind that commits to doing anything for them and makes them feel treasured. Try telling the Lord you need Him today. Not that you need Him to help you with something, but that you truly need Him to walk with you because you are lost without Him.

See the power your words possess? Use them wisely.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Dream Big - Live Intentionally

"Three keys to more abundant living: caring about others, daring for others, sharing with others." William Arthur Ward
Sharing the story of Jesus with 2 of my Haitian buddies while they colored.
How do you determine the meaning of life? For that matter, what does it mean to really live a life full of meaning? It isn't a magic number or word. It isn't determined by status, money or lack there of.

Boy, if those questions don't make your head spin, I don't know what will. The answer isn't a magic number or word. It isn't determined by status, money or lack there of. In the past few months, my view on the meaning of life was sharpened through experiencing life with some of the poorest people on earth.

In May, I spent a week with the Haitian people, immersing myself in their villages and homes. Even then, I only got a small peak into their reality. Homes are barely decent, clothes threadbare, food scarce, but smiles are abundant. Somehow, in the midst of the awful conditions, they have found the key to meaning, the motivation to exist, and the reason to smile.

Jesus said that He came that we might have life and have it to the full. 

Too often I miss the full life Jesus desires for me because I am too caught up in the American dream or the American schedule. How I long for the simplicity of conversations on broken rocking chairs on the front porch of Haitian homes. I'm so thankful that as intricate as the gospel is, it can be boiled down to Jesus' love for us. The meaning of life is solved.

It was difficult to come back and sit in an office after a week of walking house to house, sitting on front porches, sharing the gospel, praying, and loving on people. Why? I spent a week living life intentionally. My needs were secondary, my schedule irrelevant, technology silent. No distractions, interruptions, or agendas. Just me, my team, and people who need to be encouraged and loved. For a week, I lived with a greater purpose. Life was black and white yet never looked more colorful, more rich.

But my mission is the same here. Abundant life doesn't just exist in Haiti. The picture is just more clear there. My prayer is that I live abundantly in my day-to-day and don't lose sight of the simplicity of the gospel. Care to join me?

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Stretching Makes Me Stronger

It's time for Five Minute Friday where a flash mob of writers join to write purely for the joy of it and then share our thoughts over at Lisa-Jo's. So, set your timer and clear your head for five minutes of free writing without worrying about getting it right. Today's word?
I like to be comfortable. My bed is soft and conforms to my body. I love to be with people who I know and am known by. I love to know what I'm doing and how to do it.

But, comfort does not define me. At least not the past few years. So, I get an adrenaline rush our of every stretching moment. Every time, I find muscles I didn't have.

Greeting for 2000 young adults every Tuesday night for worship? Forget it! But here I am, one year in, and it's my favorite part of serving.

Sharing my struggles with people I don't know? Yeah, right. But, "vulnerability" became the name of my game, and I didn't pull a muscle.

Start a structured office job? No, thanks. But daily I learn new lessons of working with people and respecting those in authority.

Write a book? In my dreams. But slowly, every word poured out of my heart on the page.

Go to Haiti? Never in my mind. But go I did, and it changed my heart. I fell in love with a people of no means who have great worth in the eyes of the King.

I've pulled every muscle in my body doing things I don't want to do. My comfort level is shot to hades, and every new experience out of my comfort zone is as terrifying as it is exhilarating. Stretching changes every part of me, making me stronger, better. I wouldn't trade one sore muscle for an armful of feather pillows. 

Live Inspired - From the Lips of Children

"From the lips of children and infants, you have ordained praise..." Psalm 8:2

Meet Kristine, my little Haitian buddy and a girl who has captured my heart and mind since my trip. I can't believe how efficiently she dug under my skin. Kristine may look 4, but is probably closer to 6 or 7 due to malnutrition in Haiti. Her hair tinges orange, a sign of her dire need for food.

This little angel found me walking through the deaf community and latched on. When we returned a couple of days later, she found me again, wrapping her arms and legs around me like a monkey with a death grip.

Angel may be too kind a word. Kristine is a handful. She takes your stuff, bites, kicks, hits, all to get attention. My teammates dumped her into my arms, glad to be rid of the sunglasses-stealer. In my broken French and her fluent Creole, we formed a working understanding.

But, still, I fell in love with this little girl. She's a fighter. Her smile is contagious. She's curious. And because she lives in the deaf community, one or both of her parents suffers from a hearing disability. They can't hear the sound of her sweet laughter or sense her cries. Because she is a child of the physically impaired, she is looked upon as low in society, and unless cultural prejudices change, she will be forced to fight for everything she gets.

On my last day with her, we stood in a circle in the middle of a makeshift soccer field. The pastor of the deaf community led us in prayer and then led his community in a worship song while the hearing sang along. As I held Kristine, her eyes lit up and her impish smile turned my way. She began to hum in the sweetest voice, her hands moving with the deaf community - a beautiful picture of the best of two groups of people. I hummed with her and her eyes widened as she swung her legs, her whole body engaging. Kristine is a handful but she gets it. She hears a song praising the Creator and sings with both her hands and her heart.

For some reason, she laid heavy on my mind last night as I drifted to sleep. I prayed for this little girl to grow up and bridge the gap between the world of the hearing and the world of the deaf. I prayed she would fall passionately in love with Jesus and that He would protect her in a culture that has different standards than ours.

She is the future of Haiti. Will you join me in praying for her and children like her?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Dream Big - Here

"I don't know what my future holds, but I do know who holds my future." Tim Tebow

I'm a dreamer. I've been called overly passionate, maybe a little idealistic. At times both are true. But recently, I've really struggled to be present and not rush ahead to the next stage of my life. What's the hurry?

The danger with chasing a dream, at least for me, is the constant need to look ahead often blinds me to what is right in front of me. My relationships suffer, my attitude suffers, and my relationship with the Lord suffers as I develop a spirit of discontentment.

I once heard someone say, "Trust God and do the next thing." So, that's what I'm going to concentrate on. I am blessed to be close to family, have awesome friends, a job that utilizes my skill set, the opportunity to serve those my age in my city, the ability to pursue my dreams, and a God who has my best at heart and desires to challenge and use me, even when it isn't in my plans.

How can I focus on being HERE?

- Make the most of every opportunity
- Develop relationships without fear of going deeper
- Pray for the things that are up in the air and be faithful with what is in front of me
- Work hard
- Pour my passion into where I'm at to make a difference all for His glory
- Thank the Lord for His goodness and faithfulness in this season
- Pray that I will be prepared for the next season whenever the Lord brings it
- Find contentment and joy in my Heavenly Father in the mean time

In the daily journey of dreaming, do you struggle with living in the present and not wanting more?

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Created to Connect

Joining with Five Minute Friday in a fun, creative exercise. Gotta love this community. Today's word?


I stood on a gilded floor, the ceiling stretched over my head. I imagined Michelangelo's passion, his fervor to finish the Sistine Chapel, a masterpiece. In the center, two hands extend toward one another, never quite touching, but I could taste the desire. I resisted the urge to add mine to the mix.

It is said that the two men pictured are God and Adam, separated by sin but still longing for one another. Maybe it's true. But regardless, it truly captures the heart of humanity - we were hardwired with a desire to CONNECT.

Connect with God, with people, with those who are like-minded. Think about it...

You high-five strangers at a football game when your team scores, all because their t-shirt matches yours. You cry with a woman in the grocery store as you watch the planes crash into the Twin Towers, all because you know it is a national tragedy and that you are now somehow linked, partners in pain.

We were created to CONNECT.
We make those connections every day. Connect to our environment, our family, friends, and coworkers, our situations. And, deep in our hearts, we hear the connect to Something higher, bigger, better than ourselves. It's that voice that whispers in the wind or in the love of our best friend, "Will you follow me? Will you trust me?"

May we not miss the ultimate call to connect to our Creator.

Live Inspired - Friendship

"The most beautiful discovery true friends make 
is that they can grow separately without growing apart."

I spent last weekend in Missouri with one my best friends, Ashley, who I haven't seen in over two years. It was a beautiful weekend of laughter, new memories, reminiscing, and even a few tears.

This week, I am incredibly inspired, blessed, and humbled by God's sovereignty in placing certain people in our lives. I loved hearing Ashley tell her family and friends about our initial uncertainty about one another, our glaring differences, and yet the beautiful, strong friendship He has grown over the last three years. 

Ashley was my roommate at Focus on the Family Leadership Institute the summer the Lord changed my life. She survived my rough edges, anger, and insecurities by constantly challenging me, loving me, and encouraging me. There aren't many people who would have stuck around through all that. And she continues to pour into my life to this day. Since that summer, our relationship has been built through very long phone calls, scattered Skype dates, and a handful of letters, cards, and mix CDs. 

This woman loves the Lord and runs hard after Him. She quit her job to start law school and begins her second year in just a few weeks! I'm so proud of her and so honored to love and support her from miles away. The Lord knew exactly what He was doing when He placed us in the same room - an early riser and night owl. This girl speaks truth into my life and loves me in spite of myself. I can't wait to see what the Lord does in our relationship on this long journey to eternity. 

Despite tearful goodbyes, with some friends, goodbyes are never final. They simply mean "see you soon."

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Dream Big - Olympic Fever

A champion is built on the hard days when the only thing left to do is push harder.

I don't know about you, but I am definitely dropping this ball. Like the rest of the world, I have developed a severe case of Olympic fever. Seriously, it's bad. I spent the weekend in Missouri with a friend and only watched the Olympics on one night. I know what happened while I was gone, who won medals, and how they did, but I still can't help but watch my DVR and cheer.

They make it look so easy don't they? Gabby Douglas, the all-around women's gymnastic gold medalist soared to new heights on the bars. Michael Phelps set even more records in the pool, and 17-year old, Missy Franklin continues to reject sponsorships so she can swim on her high school team. We fall in love with their stories. We cheer them on to victory.

We forget their sacrifice.

They aren't Olympians because they gave into chocolate cravings on rough days. They didn't win gold because they just didn't feel like working out on vacation, if they took one. They trained and trained and trained, knowing that pay off would come in a short two week time span while the world watched.

As I push forward to my dreams, I hope that this Olympic fever continues. The hard moments will shape me, the failures make me better, the lessons will propel me forward. May I develop the heart of a champion on the hard days so that I can push myself harder on the easy days. I can't see the pay off, but I know it's coming. I just have to keep pushing.

Do you need to push harder today?