Friday, November 26, 2010

It's Thursday

As a child, you believe everything will always be the same. Holidays are days set apart. They feel different. You anticipate them. There is magic. Especially in Christmas. Yeah... you remember not being able to sleep, the excited feeling, the way the nighttime hours seemed the drag.

When did that stop?

I woke up yesterday morning. And while Thanksgiving never caused as much excitement as Christmas did, it had always been a day set apart. But yesterday. Yesterday was Thursday.

I got up and worked out and steamed broccoli and chopped onions and peeled apples and made coffee. I enjoyed my day off, as I haven't had a real one of those in a long, long time. It was a good day. But it was just Thursday.

And I wonder if that is a repercussion of blended families and divorce. Of sickness and working on holidays. If we lower our expectations in order to keep from being let down. Because things really aren't the way they used to be. Things changed, and no one really prepared you for that.

Or. Maybe it is just a part of getting older. Realizing that Thanksgiving is really just a Thursday. And Christmas is really just the 25th of December. It changes the way I think. The way I perceive, the way I go about my day. Holidays require some intentionality. But the pressure's also off. It's Thursday. Make it a good Thursday. Be thankful... not because it's Thanksgiving. But because it's Thursday.

I stopped to think about what I was thankful for yesterday. Chin-deep in text messages and emails and phone calls from people saying, I was who they were thankful for. This blew my mind.

I am thankful, above all else, for my sisters. We yell at each other, fight and carry on. We always have. Let's be honest... we probably always will. But when it comes down to it, and we're relieving all our holiday-induced stress by teaching Kat how to dougie in the living room.... they're the best in my life.

I am thankful for my parents. And their new spouses. Everyone has handled this transition with a lot of grace and understanding.

I am thankful for my uncle. And his wife, my aunt. For being my friends. I am thankful that I can look at him from across the room and, without saying a word, we can have a full conversation.

I am thankful for my other uncle... who I talked to on the phone yesterday. He doesn't know it, but I crave his approval and his love as much as my own father's.

I am thankful for the opportunity to go back to school. (I have to repeat that a few times, because today will be spent doing homework, and I'm just about worn out.)

I am thankful for my job. As much as I hate it, I know how lucky I am to have one and to have one that is so flexible.

I am thankful that I woke up in a warm house this morning.

And that I'll shower later with warm water and that if I needed a drink right now... I could go get clean water from the faucet.

I am thankful that I'm not sick. This time last year I was taking medication daily and feeling pretty miserable. I thought I'd never get better. Glad God sees farther than that.

I am thankful for my community. A patchwork of people, they're all so different. But they are why I survive. I hope I bless them as much as they bless me.

I am thankful for my car. Even though the stupid battery light is on and I think there's a leak in the driver's side door. It gets me where I need to go and every month I have enough money to make the payment. I am thankful for that.

I am thankful for Donald Miller.
And coffee.

I just had a strange thought.

I am thankful that I am single. That for the past couple of years, I have been alone. Learning who I am and... trying.... to avoid mistakes. Listening. Waiting. One day, I will be thankful for a husband. I'm thankful for him today - wherever, whoever, he is. But today I'm thankful that God has given me what I need to be patient. Bittersweet.

I am thankful for Tuesdays and two little boys named Alec and Justin.

I could keep going. A stereotypical I-Am-Thankful-For list. But it's true.

Things are hard right now.

But now it's Friday. And I'm still thankful.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


We use this word all the time. Not irreverently, not without understanding implications. Perhaps as a culture however, we use it without understanding fully what it means.


What does it mean to feel God calling?

Do we have specific callings on our life? Are we given an inherent desire, born within us, to do a certain work?

Maybe by saying calling you actually mean mission.

Maybe by mission you actually mean purpose.

Can (or "will") God call you in one direction and then change His mind? Can you hear His voice, follow Him down one hallway and through one door, only for Him to make a hard right turn?

Some of us have a pretty intuitive ear. God is vocal with us; He is visual. Maybe because those of us with the intuitive ear are also the most stubborn of us as well. He knows us well enough to know we need extra help.

Bless our hearts... sometimes He just has to be painfully obvious.

God changes us. I believe He created us with a holy desire for a purpose. The eternity He so graciously placed in all our hearts whispers our names, flicks our ears, and links arms with us as we walk down the street. The ache you feel when you're unsure of your purpose is there so we won't stay the way we are.

He loves us too much to let us stay that way.

So what is this... this thing we've named a calling.

I say I felt called to Africa. When I say this I mean I sat in my car and basically heard the Father say "would you please just go? I mean really, babe."

When I came home from Africa, my calling meant something different. It was associated with a heartache and a passion. An adventure had married up with divine confirmation. And the bond caused an explosion in my heart.

Today, I wonder if I hadn't been hitting up against a wall for years. A wall of unwillingness and selective hearing. Maybe God used Ethiopia as my wrecking ball.

I came home from Ethiopia (you all know this story so well you could tell it yourself!) and got dumped right into the lap of an inner city mission. There was no calling involved that I could see. Even though God had been connecting dots and foreshadowing this transition for years, it seemed like I just showed up one night. Of my own volition. Despite my own cynicism and lack of desire.

Wall number two came crumbling down.

So tell me: do you have to be aware of your calling? Do you have to know, hear, see, recognize the voice and hand and direction of the Father in order to fall smack dab into the middle of His plan for your life? Do you have to know what He's doing in order for Him to do it?

I just looked up the word "calling" in the NIV. The first thing, which came up was "The Calling of Matthew", where Jesus says "Follow Me".

I worry, almost chronically, about missing God's direction. Of not hearing Him when He calls. I so badly want to go where I'm supposed to, be where I'm supposed to, do what I'm supposed to. My mother always tries to comfort me by saying "anyone who wants so badly to do the will of God, will not miss the will of God."

I'm just wasting a whole heck of a lot of energy in the process.

So tell me, what's your calling? I think I know what it is.

You are called to follow Jesus.

I am called to follow Jesus.

The beautiful thing is, I believe He knows you. And I believe He really does care about your individual life. I think He has plans for you. I think He's created you to do a special work (whether you and the rest of the world thinks it's special or not).

But if you don't know... or if you're like me and He keeps leading you down different hallways...

lean back into Him. Rest in Him. If you love Him, and you are talking to Him and (even more importantly) listening to Him, you'll know when He says "whoa, wait a minute. Let's go this way." And then He takes that sharp right turn.

"If God is fathering us, He is helping us discover what is good, right, pure, and worthy to pursue. He teaches us morality and ethics, but also gave us a heart filled with desire and longing. It’s as though God sets before us a big sheet of butcher paper and hands us a box of crayons and tells us to dream. (Don Miller)"

Go ahead. Say it. Sometimes we're really... really... wrong.

Sometimes we heard Him right. Changing direction doesn't always mean you heard Him wrong in the first place. Because we are so short sighted, we don't understand the far-reaching implications of His work in us. We assume permanency; God reveals His plan to us in stepping stones.

Glory to glory.

Connecting highways.


What, then, is your calling?

Perhaps it is to love the Lord your God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself? (Matthew 22:37)

What is He saying to you today? Because He will use His words today to lead you into tomorrow.

Monday, November 15, 2010


It happens every time.
I sit and dig deep inside my heart, trying to find the place where I hold all my feeling.
I come to Him lifting up the cold, slow muscle.
Feeling like I'm bringing a broken toy to my dad.

Fix it.

This may be His favorite prayer of mine.
Because He answers me every time.
Reaching into the depths of my heart
and waking me up.

When the resurrected Jesus overcomes me
I am reminded Who it is I worship
Who it is who loves me
Who it is I love.

Suddenly what was numb and lifeless
is warmed by His closeness.
Unbidden tears spill down my cheeks
as if with the words "rest in Me" I am awakened.

He restores.
And I watched His mighty hand at work beside me.
He redeems.
Humbling us and bringing us together.

It is His voice, as a trumpet, I have been straining to hear.
In the middle of this battle, this war
I need His direction, His guidance
To be reminded He has already won.

But this life is not just a battle.
There are sweet moments, meant just to bring a smile to our faces.

Wake us up.
Open our ears and our eyes.
Sing over us.
Lead us in the way we should go.

Thursday, November 4, 2010


Hold on.
All the world's eyes are turned to you
Although it has taken tragedy

Keep on.
As the ground shake and your bodies fall ill
The wind will blow and the waters rise

But God, your Father, is not in those things.

Stay strong
We are interceding for you
You, who are experiencing the first birthing pains

By us you will not be forgotten again
Whatever is within our power
Whatever is within our reach

Blessed you will be
You whose spirits are poor, whose spirits are meek
You who are hungry and thirsty

As the storm rages towards the shore, Father, we ask with all the power of the Holy Spirit in the name of Jesus that you would intervene.

Your children are shaken and sick. They've stumbled all over the imperfection of the world, been drug into the darkness, pushed out of sight, and trod on. You love them. Even more than we do. Your babies. Our brothers and sisters.

We are in a place where we can see it coming. And we ask You'd stop this storm. Tomas, we declare, is weak against Your strength. Doubtful, even. Reroute his course. Change his direction. With Your mighty hand please get in the way.

Let repair and healing begin.

In these children of Yours, there is a determined, deep spirit. Kenbe fem.

May the darkness be so defeated it bleeds Your light...

"Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, and he brought them out of their distress. He stilled the storm to a whisper; the waves of the sea were hushed. They were glad when it grew calm, and he guided them to their desired haven." (Psalm 107:28-30)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Awake My Soul

Sometimes we get into habit. We fall into routine, into sweet rhythm.

Sometimes we crave this.

Familiarity is our comfort. We know what to expect. We know what is expected of us. We know how to do what we do. We know who is with us. We know our role.

For some of us, this can quickly turn into monotony. Like an exercise routine that doesn't make you sore anymore, you're moving and working, but not changing or growing.

When this happens to me, the Father who is usually settled in between my shoulder blades, starts walking ahead of me. He waves His hands and looks over His own shoulder, "Come with Me! This way..."

And so I go seeking. Change my pace. Change my surroundings. Switch things up.

It never fails that I find Him there. Crouching over one His creations, pointing and smiling. "Come, look at this. It's so cool."

I've changed a lot over the past year and a half. Father has taught me more than I may ever realize and I no longer even resemble the person I once was. Often we fail to see ourselves in an honest light, however. We are capable of seeing our failures and our weaknesses, but cannot see our strengths. In the words of Needtobreathe, "it's hard to see how far we've come".

So as I pulled into the parking lot last night, I prayed a simple prayer. "Show me what You've taught me. And fill my arms."

I was a follower last night. I didn't know what I was doing. I was in a place I'd never been, mostly with people I didn't know. There were familiar aspects. But as I was submerged in newness, my heart was filled to bursting. I wanted to dance around.

Slowly, Father revealed to me the things I'd asked. Gently and clearly, He spoke over me like a proud parent last night. He also spoke of more change, of preparation, of missions and callings.

I stood around for a while, soaking in everything. I've been striving to be effective; trying to be so faithful. I just wanted to be told what to do. I wanted instruction. I wanted to follow.

Then I heard Him tell me to move. Suddenly I was surrounded by children on bicycles. Children stealing poptarts. Children pulling knives on one another. And the fuse was lit. The flame I'd let die down was, in an instant, ignited once more.

And then He filled my arms.

My empty arms. My empty heart.

Father hears me when I pray. Every single prayer. More often than not these days, He says "wait". Sometimes, "no". But there are some prayers He never even hesitates to answer. Some prayers He answers before the words ever leave my lips.

Awake my soul.

Wake my spirit up.

"There you are," I hear Him whisper as He leans in and puts His forehead on mine. "You're back..."

In a change of pace, I stumbled all over the Almighty.