water

Today is March 13…trivial to most of the world and life-changing for me. This day still makes water leak out of my eyes, as I discovered earlier today.

There are times in my life that I hate having a good memory. It’s more scarring that anything, because in an instant my memory can bring perfect crisp 3D color to very painful moments. Joyful moments, too, but today…very raw, painful ones.

Fourteen years ago today is one of those days that I wish my memory had conveniently lost. I was in my dorm room in Des Moines and got a phone call from Kansas City that a close high school friend had been in a car wreck. After the news came that he hadn’t made it, I found myself in a vortex of disbelief as reality sunk in that a vibrant, supportive and loyal personality was no longer walking in this world. I was desperately grasping at straws to survive the emotional turmoil.

I was in a horrendous place for over a year. Drowning in significant depression, and eventually told by my dad, ‘Everyone has people that die in their life. You just move on and get over it. There is no use in dwelling in it. That’s what you need to do – get over it!’ He had no way of knowing that I was at the point that could not physically or mentally do that on my own, but with his words I then felt I couldn’t show him what was really happening to me on the inside.

I would hold it all together…because it was what was expected…then I would have panic attacks and fall apart. It was scary. It was painful, and only a few people knew it was happening.

The only way for me to come through it was to completely submit myself to Christ. It was weird, because before college, the only thing I knew about Jesus was he had two holidays…and I wasn’t even really sure why he had them. It’s hard to believe in a guy who has holidays just for himself…until you realize what that guy said when he walked this earth and the Spirit that came for all the believers on the heels of his departure.

When I say I know I cannot live without the Holy Spirit sustaining me…it comes from personal experience. It comes from a place of relief. It comes from a place of extreme gratitude. It comes from feeling the sweet freedom of real life. It comes from a place where my past, present & future collide into a beautiful symphony of God’s provision and calling.

SAMSUNGToday. (Deep breath.) Today, I went to the gravesite for the first time in over a decade. I left some crazy daisies for a friend who was completely crazy, and walked through some crappy stuff with me in high school. Who believed in me and supported me in ways I never fully appreciated until I began to see the world as God see it… communities of people living life together. The full clarity came when I found myself in communities who did supported each other in radical ways. First in college with friends who never left my side, and now in a fantastic community of friends, who laugh with me, cry with me and are my enthusiasm when I have none.

Today, I reflect on that day. I grasp on to Christ as my memory slides me back into those desperate moments. And I remember who I was, who I am…and ready for who God is still creating me to be.

Now when water leaks from my eyes on March 13…I’m still not sure what percent is selfish sadness over the world losing a teenager, and what percent is profound thanks for the choices I made because of that loss. Either way…the water flows freely.

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thirst

I had never been drinking so much water in my entire life…yet constantly thirsty. We were sweating out liquid faster than we could take it into our bodies.

We were in Haiti…and it was HOT.

We were reliant on water from massive multi gallon jugs, and by the end of the week we were running precariously low. I was on an endless cycle of filling…drinking…filling…drinking…filling my Nalgene bottle. The thirst was unimaginable…the kind where your mouth gets all tacky and your saliva turns as thick as peanut butter. It’s not a pleasant experience, and even though you keep drinking, it keeps happening. The things we do for God. Happily…

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I don’t travel without a Nalgene bottle, anywhere. My favorite one has taken a beating for years…and died an ugly, horrible death this summer. It had run its course, but it was my Duke bottle. Not only could I quench my thirst, but I could also rep my favorite basketball team.

The reason I don’t travel without a water bottle is your body takes an awful turn when you get dehydrated. We need water so badly that when we dehydrate our bodies respond in ways that can end us up in the hospital. I am constantly telling people to drink more water on mission trips.

And that’s when we have it accessible…what about all of the people in the world who don’t have easy access to clean water? Sad, right? If that touches something in you, let’s talk, because there are a myriad of organizations out there that deal with getting clean, reliable water to places that don’t have a good water source.

We thirst for water because we cannot live without it.

Honestly, I think our bodies thirst for God in the same way…we just learn to deny those thirsts in different ways. What if our bodies thirsted for God like we thirst for water? What if there was a significant physical reaction that would land you in the hospital if you went without God? Imagine running a friend to the emergency room, ‘Quick! She didn’t take in enough God today…she’s dying!!!’

The sad part is our souls do wither up when we don’t quench its thirst for God. The horrifying part is a large majority of people don’t care. Do you find yourself in an apathetic camp of “Eh, I don’t’ need God today. I’ve got this.” Well, ya don’t.  You need God for grace, mercy, hope, compassion, love…ALL the fruits of the Spirit. You need His Spirit to fill you to overflowing so you see others as God sees them. You need Jesus. We all need Jesus.

But if we don’t make an effort to quench our thirst with God it’s not going to happen. He does give free fill-ups…but you need to actually care you are getting it. Then…you need to USE it. Kingdom work. Make it happen.

I hope you find yourself caring about how much ‘God’ you take in today to quench your thirst…not just because it’s Sunday, but as if your life depended on it.

world

There once was a little girl who had not a care in the world. Her bed was warm. Her belly was full. Her bike had tires. Her family took fantastic vacations. She went to school. She had water out of not only a kitchen faucet, but a bathroom faucet, too, plus a toilet. Unfortunately…she lived in a bubble called suburbia. And in the grand scheme of the world, suburbia is miniscule.

Suburbia. The place where you have to drive a car, most likely getting one at age 16 when you are able to drive legally. It is also the place where you eat out at restaurants…a lot of them. In general, we have everything we need plus everything we don’t. Oh, and where coffee is a necessity instead of a luxury.

There is a big, bold, thick bubble that shields most Americans from what I honestly think is reality. When foreigners look in…we appear to live on a movie set, because our lives are so far away from any form of life that they know.

There are two sides of this coin. One, our worldview needs to bust open. Two, we need to stop imposing the way we live on other cultures, and expecting them to fall into line because we are ‘saving’ them from their shacks and poverty.

Don’t get me wrong. I know poverty exists. I’ve seen it, and it is blatantly wrong…please see post on injustice.

But sometimes our perverted American worldview gets stuck thinking that anything below us is poverty. And that theory is dreadfully wrong. It is not reasonable to assume that our way of building homes will work in all climates and environments that are unlike anything in America.

And yes, a thousand times yes, everyone in this world should have clean drinking water, and good sanitation. But that doesn’t mean it has to be inside every home. The communities that get water together have beautiful relationships with each other that put any friendship you have to the test.

Mel's photo on our 2nd visit.

Many would argue with me…but I don’t think you’ve truly lived until you’ve walked in raw sewage, held an orphan craving touch, eaten something unidentifiable, lived for a week somewhere that has no relief for heat, walked with a stranger through a rough time or looked a homeless person in the eye and called them by name.

I also don’t think you’ve truly lived until you study the places in the Bible that tell you to go. Live sent. Be more. Love radically. Love a complete stranger without understanding why.

See the world as God sees the world, because I guarantee you…he looks at the suburban bubble and sighs. He knows there are people mobilizing others within that bubble, but he also knows what lies beyond that bubble for us. He knows the life we can grab onto by allowing him to bust open our worldview. The simple fact is most people don’t want to live that far outside their comfort zone.

Denver. China. Appalachia. Russia. Liberia. Guatemala. Haiti.

God has used each one of those places to widen my view on the world. He’s actually busted it open so many times I’ve lost track. The hard part was allowing it. And now…the ironic part is I am more comfortable in any of those places than I am living the Suburban bubble. But the beautiful part is that when he makes the world smaller for you…you see him so much more.

‘Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.’ [Neale Donald Walsch]

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