Monthly Archives: June 2014

Lessons From India – an interview with Liv Brubaker

This summer is about you guys – the movers & the shakers. Your wild ideas, beautiful stories and hopes of Something Bigger – that’s what this next few months is about. I’m happy to introduce you to some fellow Lark & Bloom readers who are doing big things. Today – Olivia Brubaker

 

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Liz : Olivia, I stalk you on Instagram. I’m gonna just go ahead and admit it. Saw that you went on a trip to India. Do you travel a lot or is this a pretty new experience for you?

Olivia: I’ve traveled a good bit inside the US and I’ve taken a couple cruises overseas, but this trip was my first experience where I was able to actually live in another country for a while, learn the culture and spend time with people.

Liz: What did you do while you were there?

Olivia: In India we spent most of our time out in the community with people, making friends, learning about their beliefs and telling them what Jesus has done in our lives. We also went to a house church in a village and visited a place called Home of Hope, a place for dying and destitute beggars who have been rescued off the streets along with orphans.

Liz: I think I point out the obvious when I say most college students don’t do stuff like this with their summer breaks. What made you want to do it?

Olivia: I knew at a young age, even before I knew Jesus, that life was meant to be lived well. I was meant to be part of something greater. I watched several adults in my life wake up at the same time, do the same thing, go to the same office, walk through the same routine day after day.

Where was their purpose? Where was the hunger and the passion? I can remember thinking to myself that if I only had one life, if I only had one shot at this, there had to be more. I decided that I was made for something, though I had no clue what it was, and I vowed early on to never sign away my heart and destiny to a mundane life.

Once I met Jesus, I discovered where the burning thing in my heart were coming from. I was created for a purpose. I was created to do what those before me had never done and go where no one else had ever gone, and I was created to tell people about Jesus along the way. The world needs what Jesus offers: freedom and an open door to dive in to everything He has created and everything He is. So I chose to go to India from that place in my heart of deep thirst and hunger for adventure and greater things, but also to offer the world the same hunger, purpose and freedom I have been given.

Many people don’t know that they were created for things much bigger than themselves and that they have wonderful destinies made just for them to walk in.

One of my biggest passions is to find people rejected by the world and remind them that they have a beautiful and unique purpose. I was able to do that a lot in India.

 

Liz: What did India teach you about yourself?

Olivia: Most people I speak to who have traveled say they return home thinking, “Wow, I’m so blessed, those people had so little.” But I think if you walk into a secret house church hidden in a village of people risking being beaten and shunned by their families all to seek Jesus and you see lack, you are not seeing with the eyes of Jesus. After seeing the passionate and faith-filled hearts among the Christians in India, I was absolutely shaken by how much more they had than me.

How much more they were willing to sacrifice, and how much more of God they have experienced because of that. In America I have paid so much attention to celebrity pastors and huge churches, but in the kingdom of Heaven it is these  overlooked people who will reap great reward- these people who run after Jesus and give everyhting they have to Him just for the sake of being with him. They are the real “world changers.” The real movers and shakers. I left wanting what they had, remind that there was so much more of God to discover.

Liz: What did India teach you about people in general?

Olivia: India taught me that every single person from every single nation wants the same thing: love, purpose, community, happiness, wholeness. I also learned that God is chasing after every single one of us, every single one, offering those things and more, despite all of the other places we search for them.

Liz: Never had the privilege of going to India yet, what was your favorite experience there?

Olivia: I think I can speak for most of the team when I say our favorite experiences were the village house church and our visit to Home of Hope. I also loved being invited into people’s homes and making friends in India.

10297602_10152058630961701_6686458980729875056_nOlivia Brubaker is a soon to be 19 year old attending Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, LA. She is studying psychology and pre med. Passionate about restoring dignity, honor, destiny and health to the homeless and those in poverty-stricken neighborhoods. Approximately 250,000 homeless people live with untreated severe mental illness in the US (and growing). I believe that every living thing has a right to physical and mental health and my dream is to one day provide medical care to those who are overlooked. Twitter and Instagram: @livbrubaker

 

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“You are an artist. You were born to create” – an interview with Michael Tucker

This summer is about you guys- the movers & shakers. Your wild ideas, beautiful stories and hopes of Something Bigger – that’s what this next few months is about. I’m happy to introduce you to some fellow Lark & Bloom readers who are doing some big things. Starting now.

 

Michael Tucker

 I’d like you to meet Michael Tucker. His photos are magic and his thoughts about you in the last few paragraphs are gold. Pure gold.

Liz : Tell us a little about yourself.

Michael : Hi! I was born in Metairie, LA – a suburb of New Orleans. A couple months after I was born, my parents decided to move to Memphis for my dad’s job. They missed home too much and moved back to Louisiana when I was 5 years old. Post-Memphis, I grew up in another suburb of New Orleans called Mandeville. I love Mandeville – I grew up exploring its woods and bayous and spent a lot of time playing baseball and against my own will, going to swim practice.

My dad thought it’d be a good idea to shape me and my sisters into decent swimmers- he thought right. I was good at swimming, but it wasn’t for me. I quit sports when I was 14 and turned my attention to girls and better friends. But mostly girls, I think. My sisters, both younger than I, kept swimming through high school – I kinda look up to them for that commitment. Anyway. High school ended and I moved to Baton Rouge to study business at LSU.

photo by Michael Tucker

I always knew I’d be at LSU- I’d grown up going to LSU football games with my dad. LSU football remains one of my greatest passions, it’s probably in my blood or something. I got my Bachelors’ in four quick years and somewhere along the way I gained 54K followers on Instagram, became extrememly passioate about art, and found myself at an intership with an ad agency in Chicago which is where I’m at right now. Also, I take photos. Photos of people mostly.

Liz: How did you get into photography?

Michael: During my senior year of high school, I became friends with this dude named Colin whom I always thought was older and cooler than me – he played guitar at this church I went to on Wednesdays and really just looked older than he was. Turns out we had a lot in common, a bunch of mutual friends, and were basically the same age. So we started to hang out and he convinced me to buy a 35mm. I bought my first camera, a Canon A-1 , probably just before I graduated. Colin took beautiful photos. I was inspired.

I bought a roll of film and went shooting in small-town Louisiana with Colin. My first roll turned out pretty nice, so I didn’t really look back after that night.

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photo by Michael Tucker

Liz:  Whenever I see your pics in my Instagram feed I am always captivated. There is something really inspiring about the way you capture everyday life. What do you think your photos say about your worldview?

Michael: Well thanks! I always wonder how anyone can be captivated by anything I make – it’s wild and humbling, every time. I’ve been trying to understand who I am, not just as a photographer, but as an artist and human. What’s my voice? What’s my style? These ‘who am I’ questions are probably questions I’ll be asking myself for years and years to come, but I think what I’m beginning to understand about my art and photos in particular is that everything I make is part of a larger conversation with things much greater than myself. Things like the human experience and God. The way I take photos is very reactional. My photos are just a representation of my relationship with those ‘things much greater than myself’.

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photo by Michael Tucker

Liz: Social media gets a bad rap sometimes for being superficial. You are a part of a large online community. What are your thoughts on that?

Michael: I could talk about social media and community all day, but I’ll try to make it simple. Social media is as superficial as you allow it to be. Generally speaking, if you’re genuine with your audience, they’ll return the favor. I’m sure you’ve experienced this to be true. People can tell when we’re forcing it. So be yourself and make cool things on your own timeline. The cool thing about content for social media is that it’s often a win-win for you and your audience. You get to open up and they get to consume, and hopefully be inspired. Again, it’s only superficial if you make it so.

And just to touch on my personal experience with my particular Instagram community – it’s been fantastic. I never would or could have expected to meet so many people making so many cool things. Not to mention the incredible number of generous hearts I’ve come to know – generous in love, grace, encouragement, advice…the list goes on.

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photo by Michael Tucker

Liz:  Any tips on building a meaningful community online?

Michael: Building a meaningful community. Hmm, I’m no expert, but I think it comes down to a few things – willingness to take risks, thought leadership, and of course, and genuine interest in your community. Even more than that though, I think it’s important you ensure your own foundation is solid. Would you follow you?

Liz:  Okay, I have to ask. What are your favorite iPhone apps for photos?

Michael: Ha! I shoot with the native camera (the camera already on the iPhone) and edit exclusively with VSCO Cam.

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photo by Michael Tucker

 

Liz: What do you want to say to other Lark & Bloom readers?

Michael: There are so many of you that would like to think of yourself as artists. Maybe not by profession, but still a true artist. What I want to say to you is this: You are an artist. You were born to create. But somewhere along the line, someone or some circumstance discouraged you. An acquaintance, a teacher, a life-altering event – maybe even yourself – discouraged you from creating things you loved to create. Listen – Art is not photography. Art is not drawing, painting. Art is not music. But art is free expression. Some of you are really good at loving people – you are an artist. Some of you make beautiful and moving films – you are an artist. 

Some of you speak really well , write really well – you’re artists. And some of you understand numbers and science like most people never do, then use that knowledge to invent cool gadgets – you’re an artist. Art is free expression. It cannot be contained unless you choose to contain it yourself. Choose wisely.

Follow Michael on Instagram @mchltckr or check out his website mchltckr.com

*** I go great with your morning commute, lunch breaks and bouts of insomnia. Subscribe via email in the sidebar and get posts sent directly to your inbox. ***

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too much and still not enough

This is for those days and nights when we just aren’t sure we are getting it quite right. When we aren’t sure we are quite right.

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I am afraid I am too much to handle. I am afraid I am overbearing and my laugh may be annoying. I am afraid I will talk too much or make a joke at the wrong time. I am afraid my issues will be too heavy or my friends will get tired of my problems. What if people grow weary of dealing with my insecurities? I am afraid that my ambitions will be too big and my personality overwhelming. Sometimes I get off the phone and cringe at how strong I came across. What if people  smile and are nice, but are secretly relieved when I walk away? I wish that I could be cute & sweet. But I’m not very good at that. I always end up being intense. I am afraid that people will get tired of me.

I am afraid that I am not enough. I am afraid that I will disappoint people or be a dud. What if people expect something amazing and I don’t deliver? What if I am the wallflower at the party and get written off as boring? What if I have nothing to add to a conversation & offer no value to an idea? Sometimes I leave a meeting thinking through the things I wish I had said but was too scared to. I am afraid that I will be underwhelming. The girl everyone likes but no one needs. I am afraid that there is nothing significant or memorable about me.

And so, I binge back & forth between “too much” and “not enough”. When I feel overwhelming, I gear down. Soon I am afraid I have backed off too much. Time to jump back in the game. I evaluate my environment to see where I am on the pendulum. I am constantly battling this tension…back & forth I go. Overcompensating for my percieved “too muchness” or “not enoughness”.

Can’t come across too strong or too weak…because I am afraid of who I am.

The truth is I will never get it just right. Because I am not supposed to. I have flaws. Sometimes I am too much for some people and sometimes I am not enough for others. But so what? Fear robs me of truly sharing my life with others. My friends & family do want to walk with me even through my “too much” days. And they never look at me and see “not enough”. Your friends & family don’t either.

Most importantly, God says we are just right. We are fearfully & wonderfully made. Designed with a specific purpose and a divine composition to accomplish that purpose. He isn’t annoyed with our dreams, hopes, insecurities and weaknesses.

It is time to stop being afraid of who we are & who we are not. I’m going to try to embrace who I am and stop worrying about being intimidating. It is time to silence the voices & lies that accuse us of being “too much” and “not enough”. Time to be bold in the way we accept ourselves. Are you in?

 We won’t be perfect, but we will be honest. God can handle us. He can handle all of us.

*** I go great with your morning commute, lunch breaks and bouts of insomnia. Subscribe via email in the sidebar and get posts sent directly to your inbox. ***

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To all the has-beens and wannabes

It’s not about “that moment”. It never has been and it never will be. 

I used to think that life was more clean-cut. That a few singular events would mark me. I imagined them playing out over and over again in my mind. Rehearsed the lines and planned the details of how this party was gonna go down. I used to dream of the moments that would define me. Marriage, motherhood, career goals, levels of fame and recognition.

Clouds would surely part and rainbows would light the way for me. People would stand to their feet and acknowledge the finish lines I crossed. I’d get a trophy of some kind because, hey, I just had a “moment”.

This is the nature of the myth we believe.

A myth that life has a defining moment in which we reach our peak, our purpose. The big thing we were born for. The world will cheer for us and time will stand still to acknowledge that we have arrived. Our achievement. Our coming into our own. This is the moment we can rally around and cling to in order to make sense of our existence.

Life is less science and more art. It is about the sequential experience of collective moments.

And yet most of us view our existence in this linear chart of “life-changing” events. We live from dot to dot on the graph because in our minds that is way our lives are graded.

Some of us look towards the blank, flat line in front of us. We squint our eyes hoping to see a big mark in the future that documents one of those big events of life. The time our dream came true. A big break in our career. Getting asked out by that guy you have been crushing on all semester long. We chase big social media platforms because one day something significant will happen to us and we want to be able to share it with as many people as possible. ‘Cause somehow we have begun to believe that validates our experience.

We are hungry wanna-bes. Looking at our future selves and dreaming of what we will become. We anxiously wrestle through discouraging gaps between where we are and where we want to go. There is a vision we have of what we will look like when we are significant. Until then, we are nobodies. Just a faceless person in a crowd waiting to be launched into our lives. Just shuffling wanna-bes competing for a moment in the spotlight. A moment to be seen for our real value. A day in the sun.

Wanna-bes live in the future, but not in a dreamy sort of way. More like we don’t have permission to be awesome yet because we still lack a few things on our resume. As if there is a list with boxes to check before we can officially “arrive”.

Some of us have had those big moments already.

Like the guy who was in a popular band when he was in his early 20s. Now what? Life is all downhill from here? You are the guy who used to do and used to be?  The only gig you can get is an off the beaten path casino somewhere.

The warm sunlight we were basking in has moved on to another person with a fresh accomplishment and a newer idea. Now it starts to get a bit chilly in the shade and we bundle ourselves in blankets in an attempt to recreate the warmth we felt in the spotlight.

Watching the people who have taken our place on the pedestals we once owned. Today seems like a dried up version of yesterday, so instead of watering it with new vision? We let the present go to waste, and devote ourselves to the static shrine of who we once were.

 If the wanna-bes feel like their lives are on hold until “someday”, then the has-beens relive their “back in the day” over and over. Broken record status.

What if that isn’t the way it works at all?  What if our defining moments lie in our ordinary days. The days we practice again because one day we hope to stand on the foundations we are building today. What if who we once were is actually the foundation for us to become who we are supposed to be today?

Thing is, I know a secret about you.

You carry wild dreams in your heart and neon hope in your soul. —> click to tweet

What you have done or what you will do is not what defines you. No single moment creates your legacy. It’s a lifetime. A series of ordinary days that build into an extraordinary story. A life with ups and downs threaded together by a greater purpose. You and those wild dreams you carry in your heart. The neon hope you bring into a dark world. The world needs you. Every day. It needs you to show up and give what you’ve got.

Cause life doesn’t start when we finally “arrive”. That finish line is really just another day in the journey. And life doesn’t end when we reach the peak of something. It shifts us into new territory if we let it.

We are the ones who show up. On the best of days, the worst of days, and the days that seem to blend into everything ordinary around us. We show up because we believe that every breath is a testament to our purpose. We are still here. And we still have life to live. Not yesterday, not tomorrow. Today.

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When Rihanna And Jesus Say The Same Thing

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This song has been in my head all week. Gauging from your response to my most recent post, many of you feel like you are waiting for something. I thought I’d re-share this post as it seems to be a fitting follow up.

I’ve been thinking about Rihanna a lot these past few days. Maybe because I accidentally dyed my hair BRIGHT red two nights ago. Or perhaps because I wrote about Chris Brown recently. Mostly she is on my mind because I heard a song of hers when I was running errands that I haven’t been able to shake. I don’t like all of her stuff, but these words…

I know that Rihanna’s lyrics are about some guy & not Jesus, but they so perfectly articulate what my dialogue with Jesus seems to be like these days.

I threw my hands in the air and said,

‘Show me something.’

He said, ‘If you dare, come a little closer.’ 

-Rihanna, “Stay”

You know that verse in Psalm that says…”I waited patiently for the Lord…”?  Yea, not so much. That hasn’t been my attitude lately. I’ve been a little less King David and a bit more Rihanna about it. Throwing my hands in the air and telling God to show me something.

Show me what you are doing about my adoption.

Show me your plans for these backlogged dreams to come to pass.

Show me why hope hurts…still.

Show me where the breakthrough will come from.

Show me how I am supposed to find rest for this weary heart.

Hands in the air & yelling at God to show me. Prove it, God. Show me the reason I am still here.That is where I’ve been these past few weeks. Giving the Israelites in the Old Testament some stiff competition in the doubting department. My demands are not met with an excuse for His delay, summary of His plan or a rebuke my attitude.

My hands in the air are met with an invitation.

If you dare, come a little closer.

If I drop my demands. If I dare drop my pain and my sense of entitlement. If I dare…to come closer. To push in instead of push away. That is what Jesus keeps saying to me … come closer.

Closer to His heart. Closer to His generous nature. Closer to the one who resolves every internal conflict I have. Why? Why should I come closer?

Because in His presence is fullness of joy. The joy I am so thirsty for.

Because at His right hand are pleasures forever. The satisfaction I am craving.

Because no good thing does He withhold from me. God is not stingy with me. He has not forgotten.

Even more than those things, I need to draw closer because He loves me. With my hands in the air and my ultimatums – He still loves me. No matter how long I have been walking with God or how far I have come, I need to be loved. I never outgrow my need to hear Jesus tell me He loves me.

I’m not sure who you are, if you hate Rihanna or if your voice is hoarse from screaming your demands to God. But, I do know that you need to be loved too. So, take another risk & be daring.

Put down your stiff arms and listen past your own voice yelling. Do you hear it? Do you hear His invitation to you?

…He said, “If you dare, come a little closer…”

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Filed under Adoption, Faith, Fire, something bigger, Uncategorized, Whimsy