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

 

barefoot

Ten toes. All breathing. Not constricted by socks or shoes. That’s how my feet like to live. Barefoot. At work, I am known to be without shoes except when it will freak people out. At my desk, those toes are free, breathing and happy.

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When I have to wear shoes…I wait until the temperature dictates my toes will fall off without some warm assistance from boots…until then, I live in my Chaco sandals. No man could ever complain I spend a lot on shoes! I wear them…wash them in the washer, then wear them again looking brand new.

They are glorious. I love them. And this week I wore them in snow. Yep. I did the unthinkable…on accident. I flew into Salt Lake City to visit some college friends and their new kiddo…my newest buddy. We drove up Guardsmans Pass into Park City. And to my delight there was snow at the top of the pass! It was gorgeous! It was freedom!

Barefoot has a completely different connotation in the Bible. It was a sign of mourning, poverty or shame. God actually ordered Isaiah to go barefoot in Isaiah 20:1…

God told Isaiah son of Amoz, “Go, take off your clothes and sandals,” and Isaiah did it, going about naked and barefooted.

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Isaiah did that for THREE years. Talk about a mission from God that makes you faithful. And before anyone comes back thinking, “That’s awesome! Barefoot 3 years!” It wouldn’t have been awesome for Isaiah. As a prophet he had probably already done what prophets did to set themselves apart by wearing rough clothing. Now God is ordering him to not only take off his clothes, but go barefoot too.

What catches my attention is that Isaiah looked different because of the mission and purpose God had given him. People made fun of him and called him a fool for doing it…but he looked different.

I certainly looked different with my Chacos on top of Guardsmans Pass in the snow. A hiker even commented on my bare toes, but in no way shape or form do I really look different based on my calling and mission from God.

The real question is…should we look different? Go ahead…discuss.

far

Mar 29 - far

Hiking in Utah, 2011

The halfway point of hiking a mountain is brutal.

There is the ‘Are you KIDDING me?!?! We aren’t there yet?!?!’ Quickly followed by the defeat of ‘I can’t do this.’ Then followed by ‘Damnit I came here to summit this damn mountain.’

You haven’t realize how far up it is, but there is this inkling of a feeling you have that the view will be worth it. Yet you are only halfway…

You have a choice to make at that point. Continue? Or head back down?

I won’t even go into the false summit words that fall out of a mouth when you’ve pushed through defeat and continued to the ‘summit,’ which is not actually a summit, but just a continuation of the path.

It really sucks that you never realize how far it is up a mountain until you’ve made it halfway. Sure, it looks high…but everyone hikes mountains, it can’t be that hard, right?

Wrong. Then add in an aversion to altitude. Really wrong.

But the view…

Oh, how the view speaks to a soul. Your heart is soaring because you’ve accomplished it. Your spirit is soaking in the quiet of being 12,000 feet above sea level. And the view goes so far in the distance, you lose sight of the ground because of the atmosphere getting in the way. To top it all off, every problem you have is literally the size of an ant. Granted the sun is scorching…not good for a redhead, but there are ways to handle that, if I remember. And to get to the top without injury generally means God has your back, front and all sides. Especially when the path is 2 feet across then a cliff drop off. When God is that active around you…it’s always a good thing.

But there is something that happens to me on top of a mountain that makes me want to stay there forever. Maybe it’s the lack of oxygen getting to my brain. Or maybe I just don’t want to make the effort to go down, even though it’s easier going down than up.

Or maybe I am so free of all distraction, busyness and people wanting something from me that I just relish in the fact it is still…quiet…sweet freedom…

This is not in context at all, but I love this verse in Isaiah:

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say Zion, ‘Your God reigns!’ [Isaiah 52:7]

Good news. Peace. Good tidings. Salvation.

Our God reigns.

If climbing a mountain can give me the clarity and ability to empty my soul of the clutter, then I wish I could do it more often. Because every day I should be bringing good news to those around me. I should be speaking of peace and living it. I should offer good tidings to all I come across. I should rest in my salvation while proclaiming that God reigns.

On this Good Friday night, I pray that we all know that without Good Friday, Easter does not come. You cannot have resurrection without death. The pain, suffering and tears…all lead to life everlasting.

And I pray that we would all proclaim that God reigns, because that is indeed good news that not only crosses cultures, but languages and emotions.

May we all feel as though the summit of the mountain is far away, yet choose to claim it as our own. May we all feel that our sin makes us far away from God, yet choose to claim Christ. And may we all be people who live in the freedom of claiming Christ’s sacrifice while saying, ‘Our God reigns!’

home

Home.

I struggle with this.

Home is technically just a place I sleep if you prefer the ‘normal’ definition of the place you live.

But home is also halfway across the world every time I step into an orphanage in Kirov region.

Home is at a friends house every Thursday night when my little buddy meets me at the door.

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Home is also in Park City this week while I hang out with college friends who share the same passion for March Madness, Jesus and being outside.

Most think about home in terms of where they always come back to and spend the most time…where they put down roots.

But my roots look different.

Home for me is mobile. I don’t have roots set down in one place…my roots are more spiritual and relational than stuff and place.

I keep parts of myself in so many places. I feel my heart is fractured and I’m indecisive at times as to where I want to be, but when it comes down to it…what I need most is the relationships around me more than the stuff.

Granted…I’ve got plenty of stuff that I need to go through. And I have a healthy addiction to art. My mom actually calls it my ‘dowry.’ But all the art is how I appreciate the beauty in the world around me, and I don’t ‘need’ any of the stuff. I do, however, need the relationships God has put around me.

My relationship with God has a huge impact on my views of where my true home is. I’ve told this story here before, but it always serves as a good reminder.

In Haiti last summer, I was very moved by our translator, Joseph, and his view of where Haitians find their real hope. They have no hope for a good future, no hope for their kids to rise above poverty or their country to become self-sustainable…he said. So Haitians have no choice but to put their hope in the life after this one…to put all their trust and faith in God making heaven come to earth. No poverty. No pain. No injustice. Just God restoring his creation and setting everything right.

Perhaps I struggle to put down roots because I came to a place where I know this world will not last. That there is something so much more beautiful and stunning than this one to come…

Or maybe it just doesn’t make sense for where I am at in my life.

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In other news…I’m moving to Park City, Utah. Its fun and beautiful, and one of my best friends is having her baby here.

Just kidding. Well, kinda kidding, lately I’m just waiting for God to help me know where he needs me next. And I know that I will be at home wherever that might be.

happy

mar 11 - happy Strength

Today I am happy.

An unnatural happiness, actually.

It could be because a week from tomorrow I leave to go see my amazing best friend in Utah. (Photo on right from the last time we got together in Utah…expect greatness in a few weeks!)

Or because our church was so full of vibrant, beautiful life last night at the Bible Series viewing party.

Or I could be still on cloud nine from Duke beating North Carolina last Saturday. (If you missed that game…I’m sad for you. No really.)

Or because my friend just accepted a dinner invitation, and she knows how much I love being in community around tables.

Or because I am looking forward to meeting with the zaniest group of ladies who are on fire for serving others and spreading what I like to call the ‘propoganda’ tonight.

Or it could be because I didn’t get enough sleep last night.

Or maybe even because this slice of pizza I am eating right now has extra olives. It is always the small things, after all.

But today those things are just happy contributions to my Monday.

Today happiness comes from the pure, sweet Holy Spirit filling my soul.

Laughter bubbling easily from my lips.

Easy going nature fully restored.

Songs are heard through my office door as I cannot contain my worship. (I’m not sorry if I’m annoying you! Worship with me!)

This Lenten journey started 27 days ago…27 looooonnnng days ago.

Before this journey started I never imagined I could stick with blogging every day. It takes its toll, and at times I want to throw the towel in…ok A LOT of times. Then my stubborn side kicks in and I get my blog posted before I go to sleep for the night, which I count as that ‘day,’ by the way.

But over halfway through this Lenten journey there are so many amazing things happening.

I am in scripture more and I am LOVING being in God’s word again, with passion instead of obligation.

I am listening more. God still speaks…we just never make room to listen.

I am worshipping more, since I gave up ‘secular music’ for Lent. Check out the ‘Jammin’ tab at the top of the blog and you’ll see what I’ve been worshipping to this Lent season. I’ve actually been jammin’ today all by my happy little self. (My boss walked by and said, ‘Well, aren’t you the songbird today!’)

I am uttering prayers more consistently than usual.

I am being more intentional.

I am being more like the person God desires me to be…and that feels pretty damn good.

Endnote: I was going to find the ‘perfect’ scripture for the Rethink Church word today, ‘happy,’ but then I decided God’s people reflecting his joy is the best visual of ‘happy’ scripture out there.

spirit

God. Jesus. Holy Spirit.

The Trinity.

I love God. Jesus is my friend. But honestly, Spirit is the one I feel closest to most of the time.

How could you not? Jesus repeatedly said, hey ya’ll I’m leaving…but I’m leaving something behind for you. And it will be something that is so fluid, yet transparent and so powerful.

Comforter. Counselor. Sender. Translator. Truth. Guide.

When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future. [John 16:13]

I will never forget the first time I read Acts. The spirit flowed so freely for them…how could that piece be missing now? In Acts 13, not only do they hear the spirit say to send out Barnabas and Paul…the end of the chapter finds them shaking the dust from their feet while they left in protest, ‘And the disciples were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit.’

The Spirit still flows just as freely, we just choose to ignore it most of the time. We take those memories of the ‘time that I felt the closest’ to God and convince ourselves that is the way it has to happen to feel that close again. But when that moment happens once a year, or once every 2 years…why on earth would we bind the Spirit from moving in us that way? Stop putting limits on God. God is limitless yet in our humanness we decide how he interacts with us. How completely backwards is that?!?!

How are your instincts…do you truly think they are all yours? Have you ever wondered that there was something else at play? Start an experiment and go with your instinct and see if God has an adventure for you. Pray that the Holy Spirit would guide you. Allow conversations to flow with the breath of a prayer in your head ‘God be in this…give me words…give me wisdom, let them feel you.’

Sure, there are times I’ve felt no presence…but it is wrong to blame God for that feeling. He doesn’t ever leave us, he is always there and always at work. Sometimes our choices and steps move us away from him. So then I correct and find myself where I am supposed to be and we are back on track.

Utah, 2011. Erin and I climbed the mountain in the background  September 2011.

Utah, 2011. Erin and I climbed the mountain in the background September 2011.

Most of those corrections find me at a lake…or mountains…or ironically in the middle of a mission trip that I should have corrected myself before leaving. Sometimes it seems the higher up I get…the closer I feel. This photo is from a hike a few years ago in Utah that kicked my butt. We had hiked the mountain in the background, yet still thought it was a great idea to go some more lower down. But those few days with my friends ‘reset’ me, and I was back where I needed to be.

I cannot truly live without Holy Spirit. I rely on it way too much. I cannot be my calling to God’s mission without Holy Spirit. Living in God’s mission field, the Holy Spirit is the only language I know to truly navigate God’s Kingdom. It is my comforter. It is my counselor. It is my translator. It is my truth. It is my guide. And it is my sender…always, always my sender.