Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Get In the Way

I want to save the world. I want to give them vitamins and work on their grammar and give them a place to play basketball. I want to hand them hiking shoes and a Bible. I hold him as he sleeps, praying over him, hoping his life will be anointed. And that the cycle will stop here. I watch her buy groceries, wondering how many nights a week she eats by herself and I want to draw her into community.

I don't want to give them things. I don't want to supply the world with what it wants... with stuff to crowd the corners and load the shelves.

If anything, I want to strip it all away.

I do want them to have what they need.

Everything from a hand to hold to clean diapers to hope.

But I find myself seeing ways to help, and I hear myself, reminding myself I cannot change anything.

I want to save the world.

I want to break the cycle.

I want to cure loneliness and resolve anger and end poverty.

I want people to think for themselves. I want people to use lots and lots of energy. I want people to learn and people to make things and people to love each other.

I am an idealist.

I might be naive.

I was raised to believe in the micro-evolution of the human psyche.

Layman's terms? People don't change. Not really. Not significantly.


Can I tell you a secret?

I honestly believe we can break the cycle.

By recognizing needs and meeting them.

By identifying gifts and building on them.

By loving.

By expecting more from each other.

By respecting one another.


So naive.


But not so naive to think I could do it alone.

Not so naive that I don't see what is bad, what is ugly, what is stubborn, what is dangerous.

Not so naive that I expect change to look like I think it will.


Because here's the deal.

People don't want to change.

People want different lives. People want to be different. People want more of this and less of that. They want what you have. And they want to give that away.

But people don't want to change.

I'm not just talking about them... those people you see but don't identify with. Those strangers you know are unhappy. That minority you judge. The statistic you scorn.

You don't want to change either.

And neither do I. Not really.


So let's hope the world doesn't give up on you... the next time you grow stagnant and fall into unhealthy behavior or are brokenhearted.

Because people can change.

I've seen it happen.

We just don't want to.


So. You be change.

Because, where we all get confused, is in thinking we can change others.

Which we cannot do. No matter how hard we try.

No matter how many buckets of food, how many counseling sessions, how many softball leagues, how many cups of coffee ...

What we do doesn't change people.

What we do doesn't save people.

But people are watching you, and you are full of the power of the One who can cause change. A power, which manifests itself as Love.

And Love gets people's attention.


So I will spend my life taking the Light I possess one step further.

I will love people who will never love me back. And I'll not want to do that sometimes.

I will be a vessel.

Stir the pot.

Rock the boat.

Get in the way.


That is my calling.

To be an empty vessel, filled with the power and love that belongs to the only One who can save the world.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Season of Singing

Feels like just yesterday the ground was frozen and the trees were bare.

Like we were counting the days until spring, measuring shadows, and cursing groundhogs.

We were dreaming of warm weather and of sunshine and flipflops.

Spring symbolized hope and new life for us - a chance to come alive again.

And then the snow and ice began to melt. Something we cannot really explain began to thaw the ground under our feet. You could smell change in the air.

We anticipated this change. Yearned for it. This blessing, come in the form of a new season.

So why is it...

that it wasn't really until today that I noticed the green leaves on the trees?

Not that I hadn't enjoyed the warm breezes and the sun on my face.

Not that I hadn't called it spring - worn skirts and gone barefoot and played outside.

But I just hadn't noticed.

And I realize how often this happens. That we sense a need for change. We anticipate change. What we are, who we are, is barren and cold and hibernating.

We want to be shaken. We want to be warm. We want to be alive.

And He begins a work in us. Thawing our hearts. Pushing through our dirt and spreading roots.

We change.

Even if we don't notice right away.

We are different. We are new. And even though the process is slow, steady, and not at all painless... we don't even notice.

Until one day, we see a brand new picture. A horizon, which has been radically transformed.

What was cold and sleeping is now warm and thriving.

We have been touched by the Creator. Awakened.

Take a look... pay attention... He is doing a work in you, whether you notice at first glance or not.

You are being made new.

"See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land."

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Retracing My Steps

Thank God we change, that we do not become who we want to be.
That we do not pick our destiny at a young age and barrel ahead with a single agenda and no chance to alter our course.
Motivation moves us forward.
Free will is the mother of our failure.
Love redeems us.

One day, surrender will perfect us.

Sometimes I try and retrace my steps. How did I get here... to this moment? What brought me this far, in this direction, through those trials... ultimately to end up here.

How did I become... me?

Many people in my life today don't know who I used to be.

The little girl who was terrified of new places and of strangers,

Who never held a baby, for fear of breaking them,

Who would rather lay on the bed and read a book than spend any time outside,

Who wanted to grow up and open a coffee shop and write books about people who took grand adventures...


I walked into their front yard last night without a second thought. The porch light was on and light glinted against the windchimes hanging from their roof. I could hear them yelling inside. The sound of feet pounding on the floor in the hallway... then the storm door being thrown open... then hollow footsteps on the porch.

He threw himself into my arms.

His eyes were wide and bright. He told me his name, then spelled his name, and announced he was seventy-two years old. He played with my hair as he talked to me, sometimes reaching up and touching my face.

Really... he was six. Too big to be held in my arms the way I was. But it didn't matter.

They led me inside and handed me the baby. One month old, he was still sleeping. I pulled him close and they handed me a bottle and walked away. Suddenly... I was by myself. Standing in the hallway of a strange house, with pitbulls scratching at the bedroom door, and an army of people unloading a truck outside.


So many moments add up to make our lives.

Moments take us by surprise and transform us.

When we least expect it, we are stretched. We turn in a new direction. Scales fall from our eyes.

We discover potential we never knew we had.

We learn how to love.

That babies don't break easily.

We learn how to pray.

And what it feels like to have dirty feet.


I did not grow up to be who I wanted to be.

And I will not end up who I am right now.

But there is a whisper I can hear... that suggests I was made for this life.

For adventures and babies and dirty feet.

I retrace my steps... realizing that every one was taken to lead me here.

And every one I take from here on out will be taken to get me there.

Toward becoming who I was created to be.

No time wasted.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Paying Attention

One of my biggest struggles with my faith is the acceptance that I can get better.

I find myself striving to be more patient, understanding, gracious, and righteous. Yet there is this nagging voice in the back of my head (not my heart) that whispers about failure. About how I will never be good enough, that I will never really "get" it, that there's no way to really hear and understand the voice of God.

I know who this voice comes from. So I cling to 2 Corinthians 3:17-18, which explains that if we are in Christ, we are ever moving forward. We are ever reaching and ever drawing closer to Him. As sinful beings, we will never reach perfection. But Christ has asked us to try. And He will bless that trying.

So I am trying.

New Years Eve of 2008 leading into 2009 I made a resolution to do better. 2009 was a great year. New Years Eve of 2009 leading into 2010 I made the same resolution - to do even better. Again.

It is only April and more life-changing experiences have been had and decisions been made than I can remember making in years. But my approach to each one of them has been almost free of anxiety and soaked in prayer. Up until this last decision, the answer has been clear. Delivered with peace and gusts of wind and opportunity.

This last decision, however, has been a difficult one. Seemingly one of the most important decisions I will ever make, I was presented with two right ones.

None of this discerning between what is right and what is wrong. No. I was given an option. Two opportunities, seemingly the same. I asked for direction. God promised to be with me wherever I go. I asked for peace and didn't receive it. I asked for my eyes to be open to risk. I was offered safety.

I want to be familiar with the voice of God. I want to be able to know in my heart what His will is. It is my personality to verbalize the directions of the Spirit. To talk out the stirring in my heart. Some might find this offensive. I'm not always as reverent as I should be.

God is funny. And I think He's sarcastic. I think He can be dramatic and sometimes He can be so quiet that everything in the world feels a need to stop.

This personification of the Father comes from my deepest desire to know Him as such. To crawl up in His lap and let Him play with my hair. To stand on His feet while we dance together. To walk hand in hand down the road while He points out things I've never noticed before. He says a lot of the same things over and over again, because I'm stubborn and I don't listen. But sometimes He says new things.

There are days when I second guess myself. Did I just THINK I heard the voice of God? Did I just call a thought of the flesh something from Heaven?

I will go ahead and tell you that if that happens... God shuts it down quickly. If a word comes from my mouth that didn't really come from Him... He lets me know.

That nasty whispering voice in the back of my head sometimes tells me that I don't know what God sounds like. How could I possibly have heard Him that clearly? I am a sinner and I am full of fault and it is prideful and blasphemous to say I know what God is saying...

But that is not the still small voice.

I believe that God will forever remain a mystery. We will never be able to reach His depths or run His distance or stretch His width. He will forever be doing new things, saying new things, loving us in new ways.

But He will always want us to be close. His desire is not to be a stranger. He isn't out to play a hide and seek, guessing game with us. But He will push us. He will let us draw near. And He will move higher. Ever higher. From glory to glory.

We must remain in humility, in complete awe and reverence of His holiness and power. But we will follow the sound of His familiar voice. Becoming more in tune and more familiar with its tone and message as every day passes. Laughing at His jokes. Rejoicing in His glorious habits.

We just have to pay attention.

Becoming familiar with the character of God. So when His voice is quiet and He seems really far away... we still might know His will. That even if we can't see Him, we can see where He's been. Recognizing the effects of His presence, the echo of His voice.

And day by day, we will get better. Grow stronger. We will be filled more with Christ. Brimming with His love. Our desires will be all wrapped up in Him and our delight will be His.

We will start paying attention to this life - the things that draw us closer to Him, that which deters us. We will do better. We will be filled with a "glorious and inexpressible joy".

Because we love Him.

And... believe it or not...

He loves us.

Look for Him. Pay attention, because He is moving all around you. He shows up when you ask Him to and in ways you'd never dream. He wants to talk to you. He wants you to hear Him and understand Him. He wants to live your life with you.


He wants your life.

And He wants you to live life with Him.

So I return to my two right decisions. Feeling like I might end up drawing a purple horse.

And I realize that He had a new answer for me. That He was doing something new. Offering me a gift and challenging my faith in Him.

"Let me quiet you with my love, rejoice over you with singing. Live where I live. Take this gift. Rest in the shadow of my wings."

Thursday, April 8, 2010


I talk to Him all the time. All day long, He and I are in conversation.

On days like today, I talked His ear off. I told Him what I thought I knew, what I thought I heard, what I thought I felt. I told Him I'd go wherever He asked. I asked Him to remind me about my love for Africa - because the enemy was picking it apart. I told Him all I really wanted was to be where He was. That I understood that He liked weird places. I explained that I knew that this time there might not be a wrong answer. But I wanted to please Him.

If I could have seen Him sitting across the table from me, I would have seen Him try to speak three or four times. I would have seen Him lift His hand to stop me. I would have seen Him lean forward and open His mouth, about to speak.

Finally... when I stopped... He whispered.

"If you would just stop talking for a second and listen to me." I think He was laughing at me.

"Trust Me from the bottom of your heart; don't try to figure out everything on your own.
Listen for My voice in everything you do, everywhere you go; I'm the one who will keep you on track. Don't assume that you know it all.(prov3)"

So. Sheepishly, I leaned back in my seat.

And just for good measure, I reminded Him. "If you will just TELL me where to go..."

I think my heart shook with His laughter.

"I'll tell you marvelous and wondrous things that you could never figure out on your own.(jer33:3)"

So. I am trying to listen.

"Pray continuously", after all, does not mean "speak endlessly".

Sunday, April 4, 2010


I woke up this morning in a new home. My first morning in my new home was Easter morning.

How can I explain to you what I felt when I rolled over in bed and saw what a beautiful day it was outside?

This is the first Easter I’ve ever felt anything. This is the first Good Friday, the first Easter Sunday, which I had any emotion at all. Not because I didn’t understand, not because I didn’t believe, not because I didn’t appreciate… but something happened to me this past year.

My heart got wrapped up in this whole mess.

But my heart is not wrapped up in the crucified Jesus. I am grateful, eternally and wholeheartedly grateful. But I didn’t fall in love with the pierced and broken Jesus.

I fell in love with the risen Jesus. The one who looked like a gardener. The one who shook the tomb and the one the rock feared. The one who got uncomfortably close to Thomas and whispered, “Believe…”

I watched a clip from a movie this morning, which depicts Jesus as a laughing man. A man with light in his eyes. A man who touched people’s faces and held their hands and joked with them. I am overwhelmed with the simple thought that sin had separated us from our Creator for so long that he became human – just so he could be close to us forever.

Normally, I completely disagree with media’s interpretation of the Christ, but this brought tears to my eyes.

I think about the Ethiopian man I met who had leprosy. He weaves rugs outside of the hospital, using the nubs of his fingers to tighten the weft. I remember the joy in his eyes when we got close and told him his work was beautiful.

I watched another clip from the same movie this afternoon, where the Matthew 8 leper was depicted as an elderly black man. And Jesus healed him, touching his face, hugging him, and rejoicing with him. A thought then crossed my mind.

Just like the blind man – whose new eyes saw Jesus first—the leper’s new hands would touch Jesus first.

What some may not know is that leprosy does not cause you to lose your limbs. Leprosy causes you to lose feeling in them. Because you cannot feel them, you don’t know when they get infected or cut or burned. After time, you lose your fingers and toes and hands because the nerves have died.

Leprosy means you cannot feel.

So for Jesus to reach out and touch you, heal you from leprosy, would mean you would be able to feel again.

And in the instant feeling was restored, your fingers suddenly grew back, or the nerves reconnected in the palms of your hands… you would be touching Jesus.

The Lord of Lords would be holding your hand.

My mind dwelled on this and my heart ached. Just like it did when I read Revelation. Just like it did when I watched Evan Almighty and “God” and Evan dance together under the tree. Just like it did when my friend said she just wanted God to come and pick her up and hold her in his arms.

I just want to be touched by Jesus. To walk through a garden and be skeptical of the gardener – because I know my Christ well enough to recognize him when I see him.

It is Easter Sunday. Today, we are celebrating.

We are celebrating the power of Christ. We celebrate that he paid a price we could not pay, but did not remain the tomb. We celebrate a Jesus who touches us, who laughs with us. Who will hide us in the rock and destroy what has hurt us, who will reach out and hold you in your all of brokenness and pull you out of all of your filth.

We celebrate Easter because He is alive.

I pray you feel Him touching your face today - that your heart feels His presence in a way, which reminds you He is real and of His real love for you.

His undeserved, unrelenting, unexpected love.