Category Archives: Faith

No small plans. No timid dreams.

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The summer between my senior year in high school and my freshman year of college I had this same exact feeling. I remember sitting in my front yard late one night next to a boy. I found myself pulling grass out by the fist full – doing anything I could to delay the inevitable. He and I had said all the things there were to say until there was nothing left but the one thing. The thing that hung so heavy on my eighteen year old frame.

“We have to break up.”.

It was hard. There were tears and doubts. Years have taught me now what love is and that wasn’t love. But it was sweet and kind to me – whatever it was. I let him walk away that night unsure if someone better would ever find me, but I knew that sometimes you have to let go in order have space for the next thing. He was a good thing no doubt. But he wasn’t my good thing.

I snapped this pic a few weeks ago on top of Table Mountain in South Africa. This summer I have put in some miles and these feet of mine have carried me through numerous cities in the US, walked me through London and led me over the hills of Cape Town. It has been a journey. A journey that has given me the opportunity to hear some of your stories and see some of your faces.

Those of you who have mustered up the courage to start new businesses, go back to school or who have gotten together with other readers to share the things you carry on those pieces of paper. I am moved. Always, deeply and humbly moved that something I have said or done has sparked inspiration in you.

As I have heard the stories of featured readers over the summer that I have posted to my blog, I have realized something. I have settled for a “good enough” dream. The way you all risk and are pushing the boundaries has sparked something in me.

Courage is contagious. And I have caught it from you.

I sat at my computer three years ago and wrote the first blog entry on Lark & Bloom. Thinking to myself that the thoughts rolling around in my head might be better left unshared and unspoken.  Away from scrutiny and rejection. I hit that publish button and that’s when this all started. That’s when we started. 

Truth be told, it is easy to take one big leap and then convince ourselves that we have landed. That this is as far as we will go – as far as we want to go. We’ve got something to show for ourselves now. No one can fault us for not trying. We tried. We succeeded. But then we stopped. 

We got far enough, did enough, lived enough.

Your stories have highlighted places in me where I have begun to settle. And I’ve decided something.

No small plans, no timid dreams.

If I am honest with myself – really gut honest – I want to contribute to social change in more profound ways than I am doing now. I want to mentor dreamers and creatives to a greater degree than I am at the moment. I wanna give a pep talk to the world – I want to be an author. There I said it. Out loud and online.

But that requires something terrifying and vulnerable. Something that may or may not work.

I don’t have a business plan, but I have a dream. And for now that’s gotta be good enough.

Your tales of triumph, ache, of stumbling through the mess to find the next steps. You have moved me.

So here I am again on another summer night. Looking at what has been and saying that this is lovely, but I have to let it go. Because there is a bigger dream in me that needs chasing.

Let’s be clear. You and me? We aren’t breaking up. 

I’m just risking on taking this to the next level. I’m going way out of my comfort zone to build a new website that will house this blog as well as other projects.

But we are in this together – me and you. So, I wanted to be transparent from the start. ‘Cause sometimes we need reminding that risks aren’t always polished or easy. That sometimes it means letting go of what is to chase something bigger. Even if it feels too big at times.

And maybe some of you champions need to take some risks with me. Letting go of  “enough” to chase the fuller picture.

So let’s be honest about the things we carry inside us. The version of ourselves we long to become. And let’s do this again. Let’s pioneer something new. No small plans. No timid dreams. Just brave. That’s us.

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Filed under Faith, Fire, Going Places, something bigger, Uncategorized, Whimsy

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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Was that you? Sitting behind me in a London pub?

I’ve been wrong before, but I don’t think I am this time. I think we had dinner next to each other in London once…

 

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This computer feels so foreign in front of me and my fingers are having trouble dropping syllables at the speed which they did before. I am in Africa and due to my poor internet connection I have not been posting or even trying for that matter.

Today is different though.

I am working hard to get a wi-fi signal because I am aching to tell you something. Something I’ve wanted to say since that evening in London a few days ago. I was sitting at a table with my family in central London waiting for our fish & chips when I first heard her start talking.

“Really? What is it that you like? Please tell me.”

She was sitting behind me when she said it to the man across from her. I couldn’t help but keep listening.

They had been discussing painful childhoods when she pulled out something from her purse. It was a poem – several pages long and typed. A poem inspired  by her experiences in a broken home. I stole a glance behind me at their table pretending to reach for something out of my own bag.

She watched eagerly as the middle-aged man read her words through his wire framed glasses. I wondered how long she had kept that paper waiting for the right moment to share it with someone. Finally he put the pages down and told her that he loved it. That it spoke to him – another who had a similar experience with a dysfunctional  family.

The woman then rambled off all her excuses as to why it wasn’t wonderful. She didn’t study poetry and never even took a course. Immediately she discounted all the value she had handed him on that paper.

Again, he insisted that he really did like it. Sheepishly she mustered the courage to ask the question we all are dying to ask.

” Really? What is it you like? Please tell me.”

I didn’t hear much of their conversation after that, but those words lingered as I ate my dinner. I heard my own voice in her question – the voice of so many of us. Your voice.

Forget the vague descriptors. Drop the token encouragements. Shoot me straight. What is it your really like about me? About what I offer? 

Our flight out of London to Cape Town left at 9pm. After my kids fell asleep I sat there in the dimly lit cabin thinking about her question again. My thoughts began to drift to you guys.

You wild dreamers with your passions scratched on pieces of paper and your ideas stored in your 140 character increments. You entrepreneurs with the risky streak just waiting to bust the world wide open in the most beautiful ways. Those of you who love big because people and their stories are the fuel for your generous souls.

All of you to some degree sit across a table from someone and give them your piece of paper. And deep down inside you wonder. Is this really valuable? Does this really matter?

And while I sit here halfway around the world from my usual keyboard, I want to be the person sitting across the table from you saying “yes. it matters very much.”. 

I’d reserve a booth for months if that pub would let me and you could each come and tell me your scribbles on pieces of paper. The things that anchor you to the most authentic parts of yourselves. The legacy you imagine within your most sincere daydreams.

I want to hear them and tell you in detail what makes you so unique. All the ways you carry greatness in you. How your story holds eternal value and unimagined potential. I’d tell you not to be embarrassed about what you’ve put down on that piece of paper. It’s pure gold.

Maybe one day we can rent out all the pubs in London. Cram through their doors and find our seats at worn tables. There we can share our stories together and pull out our papers from our own bags. Answering that lingering question – what is it you like? About me. About this dream. Is it really a thing of beauty?

Until then, I pray you find a friend to sit across from. Together sharing the secret papers you carry around in your bags. Answering each other’s questions of value. And if you don’t have a pub partner to meet up with – then hear it from me.

Those stories you carry, the ideas you create, the product of your handiwork. They are needed. They are powerful. They are a thing of beauty. Really.

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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.

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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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Come hell or high water. Me and you? We are standing.

Sometimes the battle isn’t about fighting harder, but just staying on the field. Standing come hell or high water. Me and you? We are still standing…

If I could look into your eyes I’d let you know that I see you there. A bit down the road from me. I see you trying your best to hold on with all your might to the little plot of ground you are fighting for. Mustering all your strength to fight against the headwind and recover from the blows that nearly take you out. The reason I see you is because I am here too. Standing on my own plot of ground…

This is a day where there just isn’t anything to do but stand. I sit here with tears brimming in my eyes because this little heart of mine is tired. My feet are sore from trying to claim this patch of land – this promise – for so long. I ache from maintaining uncomfortable postures. Twisting around the obstacles that try to tangle me – bending to keep myself just out of reach from their fatal grasp.

I first came to this place several years ago. Decided to make it my home and chose to see the future with eyes of faith. Chose to believe that God could do the impossible with me here. At first it looked like a great spot for a picnic on my new grassy plot. Lay out a blanket and enjoy the little nest I’d made with yummy food and tasty drink.

Here I would wait until it came to meet me. The promise I was standing on. But it never came.

It was okay for a while because I was surrounded by others just like me. The dreamers and believers who decided to stake their claims in the Land of Not Yet. We were like pioneers in this new land of ours. The minutes turned to hours. Longer than we anticipated but we adventurers always pack extra supplies and faced the unexpected delay with the gusto of a Broadway musical. After all, we wouldn’t be here forever. Would we?

Month after month the strength I found in numbers began to fade. My mountainside friends spotted their dream beckoning them to come and enjoy the new relationship, job, baby, adventure, personal breakthrough, clean bill of health… whatever it was. Their number had been drawn and they got to leave their humble plot to go claim their promise.

And now, here I am. Nearly alone on this mountainside. It’s hard to tell the ghosts from the visions anymore.

Through this foggy sense of no longer knowing how to fight this battle, I see you. I see you out here just like me. Seemingly alone on a piece of ground that once represented all the good things you hoped for, but now only reminds you of all the things you are no longer quite sure of. I know there are more of us, thousands perhaps. But right now, I just see us. You and me. Camping out here. And I hate camping.

Maybe you are one of the ones who packed up your lawn chair awhile ago and are in the middle of everything you dreamed of. If that’s you, I’m glad you got what you were believing for. Sure, I have my bad days and I get envious. But really, really I am glad for you. And while you are finishing off that last party cupcake, say a prayer for those of us still living off our rations.

To my fellow hillside dwellers, I’d like to tell you what I am learning. There is power in standing – remaining. 

“…and after you have done everything, to stand.” – Ephesians 6:13

When your legs won’t hold you up anymore? Kneel- it’s okay to be tired. When your eyes can no longer look for hope through your weary lids? Close your eyes and remember. Remember what led you to that little patch of promise in the first place.

There is nothing we can do to make it happen faster. No way of controlling the weather out here and the situations we have to navigate as we keep believing that someday, someday soon God will come and get us too. Through the heartache, stand. Through the storm that strips of everything we had, stand. Through the calendar days flipping past, stand.

Eloquent speech is not required. A bigger faith is not demanded. Right here? This is about standing friend. Even when we slouch on the heavy days, it’s about standing. Staying right where we are because despite it all, we are people who believe.

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