Category Archives: current events

We are dreamers and doers. Now, we need to do something. Right now.

Give what you can to a good cause & win a chance for a free consulting session with me.

photo by Samuel Aranda for The New York Times

photo by Samuel Aranda for The New York Times

 

Everyone has heard of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. If not, I suggest you read this and catch up. I’m gonna be quick and to the point on this. Me and you? We are game changers. World shapers. Because in their core, dreamers believe that things could be different. And right now, our world needs some change.

Ebola is spreading at a rapid rate and absolutely terrorizing people who deserve better. Maybe we don’t know their names and their stories, but they matter. Just as much as our own.

The Raining Season is a group who has been serving the orphans of Sierra Leone for years. And now that Ebola has hit they are continuing to serve the community there and are on the ground providing real-time help.

How can dreamers change the world? We can give ourselves to something bigger. Would you consider donating to The Raining Season as they are working directly with this issue? Even $5 can make a difference.

Every person who donates to Help Stop Ebola, can enter for a chance to win a Storm Session with me valued at $100. Just leave me a comment or tell me on social media that you donated and I will enter you into the drawing that will happen Monday, October 6th.

Lets be about change and living for something bigger. Spread the word and lets help those who need it.

Thanks guys.

I’m glad we are changing the world together.

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The wild one

I remember well. Exactly where I was when I first had the words roll through my mind. 

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I was sitting in a coffee shop just as I had through so many nights of college. It was late. I don’t remember how late, but I probably should have been in the library studying. Instead there I was on the stool situated along the front bar. The large window in front of me opened to the street and looked out over campus.

My worn journal was open to a blank page and I grabbed my pen and started writing. I am sure if I shared with you the exact words I wrote they wouldn’t make much sense to you. Syllables and doodles covering pages and exposing all the bits and pieces of me.

The parts of me that seemed disconnected and disjointed from each other, but all deeply rooted in my heart. That page had me on it. All over it. Even the parts of me that made no sense.

There was no clear picture or plan that emerged. All signs didn’t point to a specific direction my life should go. Destiny didn’t spill out like some sort of code amid the ink blots. It was just my words. The thread of my deepest dream.

I knew at that moment. I wanted to be one of the wild ones.

All the things I wasn’t – I already knew. No one needed to tell me that I wouldn’t be the first girl picked. I never was. Life didn’t have to remind me of all the places I fall short. The times I say the awkward thing or get my feelings hurt when I open my heart just a little too big. My soul bears the scars of close calls and doors shut in my face.

None the less, I couldn’t argue with what I already knew. I was one of the wild ones.

Full of fear and insecurity, but wild to the core. I wanted to chase impossible things and wrap my life with colorful thinking. Thinking that didn’t try to color-cordinate with every person and every situation. I didn’t want to be khaki. I didn’t want to blend in and match everyone.

I wanted a bold life. Those words and images I wrote on the page that night testified to that. I didn’t want neutral. I wanted to be red. And paint in red wherever I went. Marking lives and streets with red letters that declared “Liz was here”. I wanted to leave myself behind.

I was twenty. I naive. But I was right. At least partly right.

Fast-forward a decade. I’ve learned a few things about being wild.

I’ve learned that meals have to be cooked. Houses have to be cleaned. Every day. Jobs have requirements and you have to – you know – actually go to work when you feel like hoping in your car to chase adventure. And relationships? Those take time too.

But mostly, I’ve learned that wild doesn’t mean what I thought it meant when I was twenty.

It isn’t about spontaneous and risky adventures that create envious stories.

Wild is not what we do, but how we think. Daring to believe in what could be. Willing to be the person who changes things. Big or small. Not allowing the realities of life to dull down our spirits. To make us think that this – right here and right now – is all there is.

I was wrong to think that I was the wild one. It isn’t me. It’s you too.

After countless conversations on long phone calls and on sofas in coffee shops, I have realized that I am not the only wild one. You are too. We are all the wild ones. At least that is what we were made to be. The capes may have turned into cardigans and swords into laptops, but we are glowing in our core. Glowing, burning, for something better. Something bigger.

From our cubicles and living rooms we dream into a world that is better. A world that has our mark on it.  Believing that life doesn’t have to play out this way – believing that we could do it better. We could do this better. That despite all our failures and scars from being the last kids picked in dodgeball, there is something in this heart to offer.

Wild generosity is meant to do battle with greed. Wild forgiveness can cut off the cycles of hatred and vengence. Wild hope has the power to reach into the darkest places and sit – be with people where they are. Remind people that we pick them. We see them.

And love? Wild love makes people recognize that they were made for the same thing. To be wild. To dream. To live this one wild crazy life will all we’ve got.

Maybe it’s just me, but I think we are ‘somewhere over the rainbow’ kind of people I think we are wild.

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There were no ordinary days

I see Ferguson. I see Ebola spreading. I see ISIS terrorizing. I see poverty destroying entire countries. And yet, I dream. I dream of what the Church can be in moments like these…

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The history of the earth is comprised by stories of men and women like you and me. Experiences compressed through time to make a greater story. This is our moment to tell our story.

Because like it or not, history will read the pages we are currently writing.

I don’t care if they know who I was or who you were. Most likely future generations won’t talk about which church had the most campuses or who toured the conference circuit. They will want to know our true story.

I pray. I dream. I hope that this – this is what our story is:

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They did something. The world around was falling apart, but the people of God did something. Their plans weren’t perfect, but regardless of failure they got up and kept going. The Church didn’t make excuses, they made progress. Their short-comings didn’t haunt them.

They didn’t gossip the Gospel, they lived it. They advanced it. Each one looking at the brokeness in front of them and responding. Big or small. There were no ordinary days. The Church in that generation found their voice. A mighty voice that roared on behalf of the silent.

They were driven by a love for the Greater. They solved social problems previously thought un-solvable. When they grew weary they rested in the presence of God and drew from wells that never ran dry. The people of God never gave up. They sat around their kitchen tables dreaming into the Kingdom. While riding in their cars they called upon heaven to intervene on behalf of the disenfranchised. Miraculous things happened. There were no ordinary days.

Each one took the tools they had and worked. Labored – remembering the stories of generations before them. Holding to the testimony that has preceded them. The vision was greater than a fleeting pleasure and righteousness grew in their midst.

They risked everything knowing that Eternity calls their name.

There were no ordinary days.

History may have forgotten their names and faces, but a greater Kingdom knows them well. The fruit of that generation is still being harvested today. A group of courageous people who stood up when they didn’t have to. They did something.

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In the Kingdom there are no ordinary days. Let’s give the historians something to write about. Let’s do something.

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Resistance. And love. And war.

Erika bioRumor on the street is that Prince William only married Kate after today’s guest turned him down. Okay, maybe not. But it’s just ’cause he never met her. Erika Kraus has been one of my nearest and dearest since 2003. Erika serves as the Director of Haiti Transformed and you can read about some of the incredible people they partner with in Haiti at beyondtherubble.com. Take notes today friends, take notes.

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“The desperate need today is not for a greater number of intelligent people, or gifted people, but for deep people.” – Richard Foster

These days the world is incredibly complicated. I was running at the gym last week – after a really challenging day at work staring at the televisions in front of me. One was set on a music television channel where a young girl was singing adult lyrics dressed in almost lingerie. Another hosted coverage of the crisis in Gaza. I think some Adam Sandler movie was on and maybe some sports coverage as well, but I hardly noticed those.

And out of nowhere I choked up-

Considering the fact that I had already had a rough day and felt terribly overwhelmed, I turned my music up, focused on running that incline and tried to suppress the grief welling up within me.

On top of the challenges our staff and friends were facing in Haiti, I didn’t want to touch the pain rising from a small strip of land in the Middle East nor the sadness that young women grow up with impossible standards and expectations. I definitely didn’t want to face my own disappointment with myself for not looking as good as I think I should (in comparison).

The older I get the more I realize that in the midst of my own complicated realities, one of the scariest things I can do is face the pains of this oh so complicated world. Situations like Gaza – brokenness and disappointment – violence on every side – two wrongs and no clear right – are hard.

Equipping our staff in Haiti to live full and fruitful lives in a land where there is no seeming opportunity and endless amounts of corruption is hard. Living near women my age — some loosing babies to miscarriage and husbands to affairs– some waiting for love they’ve yet to taste, wondering if all the good guys will marry 10 years down, fighting against self-discrimination just like I do…this is tough also.

Haiti Transformed

When the world inside us and the world around us seems caddy-wonkus the last thing we feel humanly equipped to do is face the grey and the muddled, the complicated and the impossible.

It’s messy to live in tension — ask good questions, listen to the other side, pray, be near God, stay intimately close to people, and celebrate greater truths.

Here are some easier things to do:

1. Not rock the boat with tensions/convictions you feel — stick to the status quo — don’t burden anyone else with what you care about.

2. Numb out your awareness– be busy, pretend it’s not there

3. Bark at situations but don’t engage internally – have strong (yet shallow) opinions, but don’t bother with the deeper realities of what people are facing. Judge from a distance.

Here are some ultimately harder things to do:

1. Grow a Savior complex — and sell your entire soul and identity to a cause.

2. Alienate friends and relationships because they don’t agree with you. Stand at the poles, but don’t risk seeing and hearing the other side.

Many of us want a platform to make a difference from, we want to change the world, make it better, grow a garden for others in the midst of pain.

What I’ve realized living in Seattle in Haiti and in Texas is that no matter where I am – this means that I live with tension and resistance. It means picking up the burden of grief and suffering with. It means staying close when I’d rather run — asking questions to myself and to others, and living near God and celebrating His ways in the middle of life’s discrepancies and disappointments.

I’ve never felt so tempted to disconnect from a life in God and belief in people as when I am overwhelmed with complicated situations that seem to have no answer. I’ve also never felt so alive as when I do engage God and people in the midst of complicated situations that have no answer.

While seemingly ill-equipped for a life so laden with grief– still we are made for Heaven and draw Heaven’s light to earth when we connect to God in the grey of life- ask great questions, dig deeper wells, and love in the midst of pain.

To live fully alive, is to live awake to Heaven and awake to Truth without dismissing or denying the pain around or inside us.

That day at the gym, after running myself ragged on an incline that didn’t absorb my sadness, I turned down my music and let myself ache — I faced the images in Gaza and prayed for peace. I thought of people I know on both sides of the situation — and prayed for the impossible. I prayed for light and forgiveness in a bloody mess, asked God questions, and then waited for the burden to lift. And while the sadness didn’t — the weight of it did.

From there I found myself praying for other things…talking about my friends in Haiti, my own desires and wants, the babies my friends hope for… And here I knew I partnered with Hope rather than avoid the Dark — I resisted apathy, I treasured a greater Truth. All this on a treadmill.

My pastor often says–“We are made for love and war” — Love and connection with God and one another–and war against the dark that destroys us.

We want to change the world, but do we know how to live in tension and find grace in the resistance?

Do we know how to dig deeper wells…so that we don’t dry up but instead bubble over with wisdom and light for some of the most challenging situations on earth?

We can’t face and carry the burdens of this world if we disconnect, dis-engage, or stand in the shallow end from the sidelines. There is a well for you and for me — if we choose it — and a wider breadth of relationship and revelation. Beauty and grace to reveal in the midst of “suffering with”.

If we’d be the people who don’t turn back, but dig deep in the haze of the grey, in the pain of the resistance, we’ll find that the gardens we so often hoped we’d plant will often bloom.

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It’s like a field trip of sorts – but without the permission slip and sack lunch

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I was gonna be all impressive and grown up, but it just didn’t work out. I’ve known this was coming for weeks and had lined out some posts to automatically publish over the next two weeks so you guys wouldn’t even notice that I was in Africa.

Yea, Africa. Life didn’t quite follow my highly-detailed plan this past week and therefore I didn’t get any posts lined out to publish tonight. I sat down to do it now, but my malaria medicine is making me a smidge loopy so I decided creativity probably isn’t a wise attempt at the moment.

So, I’m gonna get personal and just tell you the truth.  I tend to stay away from talking about the ins-and-outs of my personal life on here since Lark & Bloom isn’t really about me as much as it is about us. And it certainly isn’t an adoption or parenting blog. B I’ll briefly take a moment and fill you in on whats happening with me.

This isn’t news really if you follow me on social media, but I’m going to Africa tomorrow. My husband and I have been in the process of adopting for over four years now. It’s been a long journey – a story for another day – but in November we shifted our plans and began the process of adopting from Burundi. We are hoping to adopt a set of siblings actually. I refer you to my previous post about doing the crazy thing.

If you’ve never heard of Burundi, I suggest you read about itI will be giving my paperwork to the government officials in Bujumbura and be introduced to the amazing country nestled in the heart of Africa.

I went to Africa for the first time when I was 15. I have been back twice since then and am beyond excited to return again.

I am unsure if I will be able to blog from there, so we are gonna do something a bit different. I’ll be posting photos from my trip on Instagram and I’d like to invite you along. Its kinda like a field trip of sorts, but you don’t have to sign a permission slip or bring a sack lunch. It should be fun.

Follow me on Instagram @larkandbloom and come to Africa with me. We were made for adventure.

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Filed under Adoption, current events, Faith, Global, Going Places, Kiddos, Lifestyle, My Life Thus Far, something bigger

Tolerance and the Duck Dynasty debacle

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Okay, everyone take a deep breath. We are gonna get through this post in one piece, I promise. 

I went to bed last night having read the news about Phil from Duck Dynasty being suspended for anti-gay remarks. There was such a heaviness in my gut as I tried to go to sleep. It wasn’t anger or frustration… it was sadness.

I’m not a lawyer but I am assuming the same rights that give Phil the freedom to say what he believes  (although, the word choices could have been better) are the same rights that allow A & E to employ who they want. And if A & E isn’t allowed the right to choose employees that align with their values or beliefs, then that means a  Christian run business is also not allowed to choose employees that align with their values & beliefs. So, I’m not here to bash a television network or it’s star.

I think Phil has the right to express his belief because he was asked about it. I think A & E is a business that has the right to hire/fire whoever it wants. You have the right to boycott or write letters to whomever you wish, but that isn’t really what this post is about anyway. It’s a post about how we treat people we don’t agree with…or don’t like.

I believe in the power of tolerance. I believe that people who disagree with one another on faith, politics, environment, social issues, morality or anything else can truly love and respect each other.

Maybe I’m a dreamer, in fact I know I am.

The sadness I felt last night wasn’t about this specific situation really , but the way in which we handle people who are different than we are.

I am a Christian and I see church leaders fighting each other on the application of scripture. I am a Democrat and I watch political brawls go down on both sides of the aisle. I am a mother and I watch mom’s waging war on educational choices, vaccines and sleep schedules.

My daughter goes to public school and has been vaccinated. I can’t even tell you how many mean-spirited articles I have seen on Facebook that tell me how I am screwing up my kids because of that. And it goes both ways. You non-vacciners have gotten your fair share of Facebook rebuke. What happened to sitting around kitchen tables actually discussing these things?

We are going to disagree and debate. That’s fine. However, we have lost the art of constructive disagreement and replaced it with destructive disagreement. I see our nation tearing each other down on a daily basis.

When did we become so mean? Just the other day I got this Facebook message from someone I knew in high school. Hadn’t talked to him in years, but he just decided to express his not-so-nice opinion.

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I’ll be the first to say my blog needs some work. No news there. But, really? A Facebook slam for no apparent reason other than you think I suck and you want to bash on social media? If you really want to help me be a better blogger, give me feedback on how I could improve my content. But, he didn’t want me to get better. He just didn’t like me.

I’m not saying I am a saint. I can be mean too. And I want to change. I want to be better.

I believe in humble disagreement not proud arguments. That means messy and dirty – loving your neighbor as yourself. Even if they believe in aliens, if they think global-warming is a hoax,  if they say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas”, if they are gay, Muslim, Baptist, Republican, Democrat, if they think the United States should be run entirely by militias….whatever the heck they they think is true.

If you don’t feel you have the freedom to tell me what you think or believe then how can  I know you?  And if I don’t know you, how can I love you?

My hope is that we actually move beyond tolerating one another to actually loving one another. Genuinely building community with people who are different – maybe even opposing – to us in some form or fashion.

I want an America that embraces each other – not keeps our distance afraid that we will step on toes. I want Love to win, as I know it will. My desire is for people to stop saying mean things, but I want to love them even if they never do.

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The Narrative of Grand Things and Ordinary Moments

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via polyvore

Tomorrow morning I will pack up my suitcase and board a plane with my husband and another woman for Washington DC. If you don’t mind, I’d like to tell you what we will be doing.  Actually, let me back up even further. In addition to writing this nifty little blog, I also am a director for an anti-trafficking organization called UnBound.  Titles aside, I am a stay-at-home mom and my life as a writer and abolitionist are just my side hustle.

Why am I going to Washington? On Friday we have meetings with several members of Congress to talk to them about our “Your No Is Her Hope” campaign. Later  that day I will meet with delegates from almost every African country to educate them on human trafficking and UnBound’s work. Saturday my co-worker and I will be training DC public school counselors on human trafficking and how to spot it in their schools.

Sounds so impressive, doesn’t it?

Want to know a secret? It isn’t impressive. My life is just an ordinary life made up of ordinary days. Emails sent with typos, dinner flavored with too much salt, hours spent in preschool pickup lines and numerous trips to the grocery store. It is just a normal life.

This narrative that God writes within our stories is nothing incredible when broken down day-by-day. We don’t notice the small secrets that are woven into our errands, phone calls and family dinners. And yet when I tell you what I am going to be doing this weekend, I realize that something beautiful is happening in belly of my very normal stay-at-home mom life. The hours spend chatting with my kids in my minivan are deceptive.

In the middle of my seemingly uneventful days, my story is being written.

Grand acts never seem grand in the moment. They are simply hidden in the events of ordinary days. —> click to tweet.

I am beginning to learn the gift of average days. On their own they seem unimpressive and boringly simple. And yet, our lives are lived in one long succession of individual days. When we look back at their sequence we can see our destiny unfolding…

Perhaps your life seems like mine. Routine and average. Spilled coffee, dishes, bank statements, and unreturned phone calls. Let me encourage you. Don’t toss aside your ordinary days for within them lies your story.

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Filed under current events, Faith, human trafficking, Kiddos, My Life Thus Far, Politics, Uncategorized, Whimsy