place

We have a lot of things we say about home.

‘Home is where the heart is.’

‘Home is where you are.’

There are so many others, but I think what I am beginning to realize is that home isn’t so much an exact place for me anymore.

Home is living.

Living with purpose. Living in the place wherever God has me. Living life with an extraordinary community that doesn’t put restrictions on distance. Living free within God’s grace and calling. Living through abundant laugher.

When we choose to live within God’s Kingdom, we choose to be different. We choose to represent radical love. We are still present in this world, fight for justice and are relatable to others, but we choose to live within God’s Kingdom.

“So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.” [Ephesians 2:19-22]

When we are built as a dwelling place for God, it is not a geographical location. It is by the Spirit and that’s as far from a GPS location as you could possibly get.

And that looks like an eclectic community God has brought together. It looks like a group of strangers coming to Haiti who will have crazy Kingdom connections by the time they leave. It looks like a neighbor saying to you, “There is just something different about your family.”

Home for me truly is being open to the Holy Spirit creating a dwelling place for God in me, my community and those around me. And that’s a pretty amazing home to find your place in this world.

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remember

Confession of the day: I was a choir nerd.

I know…it’s a surprise…no one was expecting this alarming confession.

Kidding aside, today I remembered a lyric from a song we sang our senior year from ‘Seasons of Love’ from Rent.

‘Remember the love.’

That particular song is forever etched in my memory. Little did we know as we stood on that stage at the end of our senior year belting these poignant lyrics ready to tackle the big, wonderful world that less than a year later we would be singing it at a funeral for one who had stood with us, our arms around each other in solidarity.

Events around that time wrecked me in some pretty substantial ways. As happens to most 19 year olds when they experience the death of a 19 year old friend. When the date rolls around every year I always find myself reflecting on who I was then verses who I am now. I’ve had a lot of pretty insanely awesome experiences.

Almost a year ago, I moved to Haiti on a date that caused me to evaluate my life and who I wanted to be in this world. In ways only orchestrated by God, this place has given my soul rest and a place to belong. God has used Haiti in insanely cool ways over the last year.

Haiti has healed me in ways I could never have imagined.

Haiti has stretched me in ways I never could have dreamed.

Haiti has made a lot of realities in the orphan window of this world very vivid.

Haiti has shown me how real this world is and how big of a bubble surrounds the States.

Haiti has brought a myriad of new people into my life that I couldn’t possibly imagine doing life without.

Haiti has shown me that it is okay to be confident and embrace the weird spiritual gifts and skills I have, and that they come not only within my calling, but with purpose.

Haiti has broadened my capacity to love in ways I didn’t think possible.

As I think back over the last year, I think that is one of the things I am most proud of that God grew on me. My capacity to love. Real. Genuine. I want to know what God does in your life…love.

I think of Johnny running down the side of the church when he sees me at the other end and the massive grin on his face.

I think about Lovely and how she waits for me at the end of the bus until I walk off the bus, then sticks to me like my shadow.

I think of crazy God connections with people I am only with for 5 days…and then they join my community in KC.

I think of how distance has strengthen friendships I have, when rational thought says they should weaken.

There are many opportunities to love during a day…and we are blessed with at least 365 opportunities in a year. What are we doing with them?

If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same.” [Luke 6:32-33]

Remember to love.

Not just remember the ways you are loved and the people you have loved, but remember to love others. Even those the world says it is a disgrace to love. There are no limits or restrictions to God’s love, so why would we put limitations on the love we show others?

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” [John 13:34-35]

Remember to love.

 

 

‘Seasons of Love’ from Rent:
Five Hundred Twenty-Five Thousand
Six Hundred Minutes
Five Hundred Twenty-Five Thousand
Moments so dear
Five Hundred Twenty-Five Thousand
Six Hundred Minutes
How Do You Measure – Measure A Year?

In Daylights – In Sunsets
In Midnights – In Cups Of Coffee
In Inches – In Miles
In Laughter – In Strife
In – Five Hundred Twenty-Five Thousand
Six Hundred Minutes
How Do You Measure
A Year In The Life?

How About Love?
How About Love?
How About Love?
Measure In Love

Seasons of Love.
Seasons of Love.

Five Hundred Twenty-Five Thousand
Six Hundred Minutes
Five Hundred Twenty-Five Thousand
Journeys To Plan

Five Hundred Twenty-Five Thousand
Six Hundred Minutes
How Do You Measure The Life
Of A Woman Or A Man

In Truth That She Learned
Or In Times That He Cried
In Bridges He Burned
Or The Way That She Died

It’s Time Now – To Sing Out
Though The Story Never Ends
Let’s Celebrate
Remember A Year In The Life Of Friends

Remember the Love
Remember the Love
Remember the Love
Measure In Love

Oh you got to you got to remember the love,
You know that love is a gift from up above
Share love, give love, spread love
Measure, measure your life in love.

path

Twisty turny, topsy turvy…if you were someone who didn’t know me and took a birds eye view of my life this crazy pattern is kind of the life path you would see.

My life doesn’t make sense to anyone who chooses to live outside of God’s Kingdom, plus a few folks who are within it, I’m sure. It does seem random. It does seem like there is no direction. And it really doesn’t not live up to the societal standards of the States. By a considerably long distance, actually.

But here’s the thing…I don’t give a shit what others think my life looks like. It’s not their choices. It’s not their path.

This path is mine, it was given to me from the Lord, and I alone own it.

I know the voice of the Holy Spirit. I know the choices I make. I know that I am happiest and have the most purpose while living within my calling and walking with God. I know the feeling of being lost, the pain and frustration of being off that path, and truly, it’s not worth it.

I hate the time and patience it takes to hear next steps on that path. Honestly, I do not sit well or contently in that time. But I don’t give orders and demands to God. Quite the opposite really. I serve him, not visa versa.

I am sitting in that place of impatience now. Knowing that I am working for an organization that I desperately love and fit within better than any other employer I’ve had in my life. I’ve never worked for anyone where my distinct calling in life perfectly matches to who an organization is at its’ core. Spirit led, Bible based, Jesus loving, Kingdom crazy people who all speak the same language God has put within me. There are not many believers called to Kingdom work within the global orphan window that find themselves working for an organization solely focused on global orphan care and prevention. I mean, really?

But my sense is that there is a time frame I am supposed to be in Haiti, but at the same time a sense I will be back, and I find myself praying intensely for clarity. Clarity on time frame. Clarity on the voice of the Holy Spirit. Clarity on discernment. Clarity that the next step I take on this crazy life path is the one I am called to take.

And let these words that I’ve prayed in the presence of God be always right there before him, day and night, so that he’ll do what is right for me, to guarantee justice for his people Israel day after day after day. Then all the people on earth will know God is the true God; there is no other God. And you, your lives must be totally obedient to God, our personal God, following the life path he has cleared, alert and attentive to everything he has made plain this day.” [1 Kings 8:59-61 MSG]
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Several years ago, one of my very best friends from college and I were hiking in Utah. We’d carefully chosen this path, and we’re digging in to accomplish it no matter what. Her patience and friendship that day were second to none, as she journeyed with a friend with newly discovered altitude issues. We were coming up the end of the path, victory of summit within or grasp and the final gasps of air filling my lungs when we realized it was a false summit. We weren’t done yet, but it was only going to get better. It was going to take anther intense push to get to the summit, and I seriously considered calling it quits, but had I really stayed there I never would have experienced the best God had for us of his beautiful creation at the top.

I feel like my life has been a perpetual ascension of false summits. Points that I find myself sitting as a placed believer not sure how it could possible get better, but what comes after continually puts me in places where I never dreamed my life could be. I feel as though I’ve come to another false summit, and I’m just not sure where God is taking the path. I can only see so far ahead, and it really looks like this is as spectacular as it could possibly get. However, the God I follow is crazy creative and very intentional at where we are placed for him. IMG_3635

What I do know is that living exactly within your God given calling is the most secure place to be in this world.

My life path is sticking as close to his path for me as I, in all my human junk, can discern, and I cannot wait to see where the next summit will be

 

covenant

I can be a word nerd.

Sometimes it gets uber ridiculous, especially when I am studying God’s word. I have no education in Greek and Hebrew language, but when I am reading the Bible I get stuck on single words and have this crazy desire to know what the original language’s intent was when written.

Micah 6:8 brings us to one of many verses where prophets are calling out the people on how they have broken the covenant with God. They haven’t held up their end of the agreement. Several years ago I discovered something rather unique about Micah 6:8. Here’s the translation we hear most often:

“He has shown you, oh man, what is good and what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” [Micah 6:8 NIV]

For believers who are passionate about justice and seeing God’s Kingdom here on earth, there is a lot to cling to in these loaded words.

Act justly.

Love mercy.

Walk humbly with God.

Who can argue those instructions?

I fell in love with this verse even more when I discovered the original Hebrew intent for the word ‘mercy.’

Unfailing love, loyal love, devotion, kindness, often based on a prior relationship, especially a covenant relationship.

Take a minute to let that soak in…

We are not talking about loving the type of mercy that you have pity for another person. We are talking about a covenant relationship built on loyalty, love…kindness.

As God creates conversations around me about how to engage this world with Gospel intentionally it always comes back to pouring into the relationships around you every day. It’s not a mission trip for a week. It’s not just taking cookies to the new neighbors when they arrive in the neighborhood. It’s not about checking off the Jesus box for the week.

It IS about loyalty to those around you and sticking it out when life is completely shitty.

It IS about the covenant relationship. The loyalty and love that explodes when God creates friendships, family and community. A covenant relationship is not surface, and the sacrifice and commitment it takes for that type of relationship is hard work. It’s hard trusting someone enough to allow them beneath all of our complicated layers…but once we do, the genuine community that develops is Kingdom igniting. All bets are off and God is going to do crazy, insane things.

It IS about unfailing, unconditional love. The type of love that lives in the grit of our lives and doesn’t go running the opposite direction when it gets even dirtier. The type of love that sees redemption and transformation through sin, and doesn’t get stuck in the measurement of sin.

Love mercy.

I live for the day that we take seriously the things God says throughout the entire Bible and the Holy Spirit in this world.

I live for the day the sacred covenant in relationships springs forth a deep genuine love for one another.

I live for the day others look at my life and can visibly see the respect, commitment, loyal love and devotion I have to the relationships God has placed in my life.

I live for the day my life reflects the character of Jesus while choosing to act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with my God.

And for all you word nerds out there, check out these verses where ‘mercy’ is translated the same as Micah 6:8…Psalm 5:7, Hosea 6:6, Micah 7:18, Micah 7:20, and Zechariah 7:9. I really, really love the Zechariah verse.

joy

They have no clue what they were in for…this is what I think every time I read Luke 10. Jesus is sending out his guys, and he is giving them a myriad of marching orders. Do this. Don’t take that. Peace. Kingdom of God. And don’t forget to shake the dust off your feet if they don’t welcome you…wait. What?!?!

After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them on ahead of him, two by two, into every town and place where he himself was about to go. And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go your way; behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves. Carry no moneybag, no knapsack, no sandals, and greet no one on the road. Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace be to this house!’ And if a son of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him. But if not, it will return to you. And remain in the same house, eating and drinking what they provide, for the laborer deserves his wages. Do not go from house to house. Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you. Heal the sick in it and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’ But whenever you enter a town and they do not receive you, go into its streets and say, ‘Even the dust of your town that clings to our feet we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near.’
[Luke 10:1-11]

Imagine the challenges these guys faced. Dirt, and lots of it. Stay with folks you don’t know. Don’t take anything with you. Sent out as lambs amongst wolves…that’s pretty intimidating. And all to spread the message the Kingdom is here, and if they were not welcomed they were to shake the dust from their feet and move on.

I think of all the challenges folks have when they are taken out of their comfort zone and how they adapt to them in those intense Kingdom moments. It’s hard stuff.

But the key here is how the guys returned…

The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” [Luke 10:17]

With joy, friends. They returned with joy.

That is the difference between setting out on your own and being sent out by Jesus. That is the difference between being called to an endeavor and making choices on your own without leaning into the Holy Spirit.

They were energized. They were inspired. They had gone out into the harvest and seen the fruit of their labors. They used the name of Jesus, empowered by Jesus himself. They trusted the One who knows. Their faith was insane. The road was hard. Their comforts were few. They took nothing from home with them. No toothbrush. No air mattress. And certainly no food from home so they could eat what was familiar.

And they returned with JOY.

Friends, the Kingdom of God is joy. It is extreme faith. It is risk. It is promise. It is adventure. It is the sweet spot where who God has created you to be merges with the gifts and experiences he has given you. And it is, oh, so beautiful for those with eyes to see it and work toward it. And that joy is evident on every face that catches a glimpse.

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Side note: I have some really spectacular friends who are blogging one word a day with me through Lent. However, since I am posting from an iPhone in Haiti…it’s rather hard to link their fabulous blogs. Please check out Shawn Franssens, Lindsay Evans, Heather Kostelnick and Brian Swanson’s blogs if you get a chance. It is really interesting reading to see how each of us feels led to share about each word!

alone

I hate being alone.

I am certain I drive some of my friends and family crazy, because I don’t even like waiting in restaurants for other people to arrive. The only places I willingly sit alone are at Panera or Starbucks when I am reading, writing or working. But even then, if a friendly face stops by…the seat across from me is always theirs if they want it.

I love looking at the sky, from sunset to moonrise, I love every aspect of God’s universe that appears. Yet again, I hate watching alone. At night as I am winding down are some of the best conversation I’ve ever had with anyone. And as crazy as some might think I am, I refuse to actually talk to myself. During summers when our family is at the lake, one of my favorite things is to sit outside at night on the deck. My dad can outlast us all, but those moments together are memorable. Someone to sit in quiet nighttime moments and just be present within whatever conversation happens makes my heart happy.

There are times when I am good being alone. If God has me soaking in some scripture, I need to give myself the space to hear him.

If I need to decompress and could potentially take out a frustration on an innocent bystander…I probably need to take a drive alone for everyone’s safety.

Realistically, it is rare that I am able to recharge in moments alone. I need people. I need my community. I need someone who will let me process out loud.

But also, realistically, I probably need more time to be still, quiet and listen for the whisper of God alone. By myself…in scary silence. Even as I type it out I am cringing. I need noise. Even in the moments I find myself alone, there is normally music playing.

However the real question is do I need noise, or do I want it? Is there a point it becomes too much?

Things get muddled when there is a lot of sound and busyness. When I need clarity. When I need to hear God. When I need to make certain I am following the Holy Spirit…the noise becomes a distraction in my safety zone of having people surround me.

Surrendering myself to the voice of God and his leading gets affirmed within community, but I need time and space to discern that voice and leading.

IMG_6443On a rooftop in northern Haiti…all alone…seeking God and surrendering to that silence found a time with God soaked in poignance. The key is I forced myself to be alone.

And what is heard in those moments can be scary and freeing all at the same time. I know the road those moments lead me down and they are some of the most restorative, refreshing and exhilarating.

But I have to force myself to be alone…and sometimes I need a little accountability to not run in the opposite direction.

 

announce

Starting off a new season of blog posts as a Lenten practice with friends is a big undertaking. One post a day. 47 days. Cue the proverbial gasp. We did it 2 years ago and we are all in for another round of community building, growth with Jesus and throwing it all out into the universe. To start…I’ve decided to let my missiology geek flag fly high and proud.

“The South African missiologist David Bosch wrote, ‘Mission is more and different from recruitment to our brand of religion; it is the alerting of people to the universal reign of God through Christ.’ In other words, mission derives from the reign of God. In that respect, the ideas of mission and Kingdom are irrevocably linked. Mission is both the announcement and the demonstration of the reign of God through Christ. Mission is not primarily concerned with church growth. It is primarily concerned with the reign and rule of the Triune God. If the church grows as a result, so be it.” (Five Habits of Highly Missional People, Michael Frost)

This is one of my favorite quotes on the sovereignty of God, our role and what we are charged with to further God’s Kingdom on earth in the here and now, not the wait until later and heaven is just gonna come variety.

Announcements don’t discriminate on type or a timely arrival. They come before a big event or after the occasion. They are happy. They are sad. They are expectant. They are difficult. But they always are used to inform and guide.

The announcement we are held to proclaim is that God reigns over the entire universe. He sacrificed his son. Holy Spirit is alive and active. His power is not limited and his love is not earned. He is life in a desolate wasteland. He is light in suffocating darkness.

“Jesus refused. ‘First things first. Your business is life, not death. And life is urgent: Announce God’s kingdom!'” (MSG Luke 9:60)

As believers we get comfortable and content with where we are at and what we are doing. But realistically, as believers and followers of the God who reigns, we should never find ourselves in a cycle of contentedness or comfort. It’s a dangerous cycle, void of growth and transformation…ours and God’s Kingdom.

As believers we tell ourselves that actions speak louder than words, which I do agree with, however, trustful, honest words are not to be relegated to the massive shadow of action. Honest words come in the midst of a loyal relationship within a community. There we find where true announcement and proclamation of the reign of God fosters transformation.

Words fall on deaf ears if all we do is walk around shouting the truth of God and moving around without investment of self and time. It’s about accepting you are placed and then genuinely loving those around you. If we get stuck believing in only the numbers game of evangelism, we lose the opportunity for real discipleship and real relationships. We miss the real message of God’s reign through Christ. We ignore how Jesus did life with those around him. And quite honestly, you miss out on all the fun to be had while building towards God’s Kingdom on earth…together.

While I was in Russia last November, the relationships God has allowed me to pour into consistently have opened up a myriad of opportunities to announce God in the lives of those that I care deeply about. Abundant opportunities to point to the Storyteller and the Story. In that case, it was the demonstration that led to a deep relationship which in turn led to a honest announcing through the trust and openness that had been built.

“Mission is both the announcement and the demonstration of the reign of God through Christ,” explains Michael Frost.

Announcement cannot exist without demonstration. Demonstration cannot exist without announcement. They are forever entwined as portals to build God’s Kingdom.