Tag Archives: faith

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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Sex, Money and Ordinary People

 

A GOD WHO IS WORTH

If it had been a Hollywood film, this is where the attractive actors would look meaningfully into the distance and the soundtrack would intensify. Then with a series of brilliant shots and carefully selected music your emotions would explode with the power of the moment. The moment when everything changes.

But this is real life. And it came as a text while I was doing dishes this afternoon. 

The message said the young woman our team at UnBound had been advocating for was going to be heading to a safe house. Even as I type this out she must be settling into the idea of a new home. A place where her life will not be threatened, where her birthday will be remembered when it rolls around each year and no one – no one will own her body.

I can’t tell you her name or the details of the story, but I can tell you that she is a survivor now. No longer a victim of human trafficking – she is free. After years of being forced to have sex for money, she is free.

Our team who worked on this case alongside local law enforcement are phenomenal people. I wish I could name them and recount their efforts one-by-one. But they are very ordinary. Stay at home moms, lawyers, pastors, teachers…normal people. As much as I love them, they are not superheros. Just dreamers who aren’t scared of a fight.

People who believe this world is not too far gone. Not too far gone to keep trying.

Average people who decided to show up to life and make a difference. They put their game face on and look evil in the eye. ‘Cause they serve a God who is bigger and a cause that is worthy. 

When I got the text this afternoon, I found myself thinking that this isn’t the way things like this are supposed to go down. If Martin Scorsese was directing, news wouldn’t break with a simple text in the middle of cleaning my house. That’s how stuff like this works though. Between emails and sips of coffee. Squeezed into pockets of time between the busyness of work and family.

Yea, there are days in my life that sound pretty legit. A few weeks ago I was in a meeting with FBI agents, a congressman and his staff. While it may seem impressive, it was just people around a table. People trying to figure out how we can solve a problem. I wasn’t Erin Brockovich and I didn’t have solutions tied up with pretty bows.  Just there to say, “Hey, I’m here and I want to help.”

‘Cause that’s really all any of us can do. Just show up with what we have and help where we can. There are no blue ribbons for the best answers or dress codes monitoring who looks the part. You. You fit the part friend. You who only have a few hours a month to serve at a soup kitchen. You in the middle of your depression offering a smile to  a stranger. You who can write checks for thousands of dollars. All of us. Together, giving what we’ve got.

If you come here often you hear me talk about  Something Bigger. That internal voice or impression that you are made for more than you are living right now. A desire to make an impact and shift things around. I believe we are all destined for something bigger.

The text I got today at 4:16 pm confirmed it. I was so proud of my friends and teammates who are working one case at a time to see modern-day slavery put to an end. The are showing up – day in, day out. Volunteering the skills and time they can humbly offer. They are the ones who chisel new messages in the pages  of history. Reminders that giving up isn’t an option.

I don’t know what is in your heart to do, but I know it matters that you do it. The world is breaking down all around us and it’s time we show up. For the lonely commuter next to us every morning to the victim of sex trafficking on the internet.

I’m calling on all you destined for Something Bigger who are wondering if showing up will really matter or not with all this chaos. Know what? It matters. You are a mover & a shaker. An ordinary person with an extraordinary God. See you tomorrow everyone, armed with hope and big dreams. Let’s take the world by storm.

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Hope Is The New Black

 Consider this your Monday morning pep talk. 

the new black

Hope: to expect with confidence (Merriam Webster)

We have each felt it. All of humanity since the creation of dreams. Hope. It elevates and stabs simultaneously. The desire for something to come. The expectation of an unfulfilled promise or destiny. Or perhaps simply a wish. Despite the size or seeming significance, our lives somehow hang in the balance of this anticipation of the things we are waiting for.

The belief that we are made for SOMETHING BIGGER. Something bigger than this pain, this fleeting joy, this small thinking and this box which can no longer hold all the parts of us. Something meaningful that makes a difference and does a small part to change the world. We hope that there is more to our lives than where we are right now.

We hope our dreams were really worth risking on. That we won’t be left with bitterness in one hand and a stack of bounced checks in the other. That love would really last and our imaginations would craft beautiful, safe places for us. That despite the opposition, all of our shots would be a bullseye. 

Hope goes with everything. It’s the new black. —> click to tweet

If we are going to really expect good things with confidence then we have to grab onto hope with both hands. An all in kind of commitment.

Just like our ambitions, we have to invest in hope.

Investing in hope will cost you. It will cost you the recurring dread, the excuses you replay, and your list of failures. Hope will require you give up your fear of failing and all the ways you justify your wounds. Investing in hope will cost you all of your mediocre living.

There are the obvious upsides to hope.

Some days hope is like a peppy Ellie Goulding song that makes you want to roll down your windows and drive until you land in a new city. A place that has been waiting for you to arrive since it was built. A place that you somehow intuitively know your way around in already. Hope makes us want to jump ’cause we believe where we land is gonna be better.

There are also painful sides to hope.

In fact, hope hurts. 

A friend of mine recently lost her daughter. She isn’t trying to conquer the world right now, she is just trying wake up in the morning and somehow stumble through the day without breaking too badly before nightfall. With heartache this heavy, her hope is to be able to breathe. To expect with confidence that someday, the weight will be lighter and easier to manage.

Hope is just like the color black. It goes with everything. The joyful weddings and the crushing funerals. Hope is always the best accessory regardless the scenario.

Situations, projections and fears don’t matter. If you feel like the wicked witch or the fairest of them all – you can put on hope. It looks good on you. Hope brings out the best parts of who you were meant to be and calls you out of all your excuses.

One of my favorite Bible verses says, “Those who hope in the Lord will not be disappointed.” (Psalm 25:3)

Whether this Monday finds you fist-bumping at all the possibilities or drenched in self-doubt…it doesn’t really matter. Those things ebb and flow. Hope doesn’t. Hope is the rock, the stability, the center.

Go ahead. Invest in it. Hope is the new black.

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Nobody Puts Baby In A Corner

Sometimes late at night, this is what I know.

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This blog is not serving it’s purpose if I am ever anything but honest.  Many of your lives are different from mine – politically, romantically, geographically and in our religious views. I really enjoy that about this space and try to mindful of that every time I sit down to type.

This isn’t a “Christian” blog but there are moments when I have to be honest about my faith. Because it is my story. My rock.

I’ve shared pretty openly on here my struggle with fear. Perhaps it sounds silly and even embarassing to admit sometimes. Hey, guess what? I don’t have it all together. I am neither impressive nor perfect.

But, I’m not alone. Seems to me that fear is something all too familiar across humanity. The dread and inexplicable heaviness of a million possibilities. Our imaginations at their worst.

These past few days I have had to really fight this one out. I found out some information that sent me into an internal tailspin. A health risk I just became aware of. I googled all about it. (By the way, NEVER EVER Google anything unless you want to get totally freaked out. Maybe state capitols are okay, but nothing else.).

And Google gave me all kinds of information and stories. Mind you these are rare cases, but each one brought new weight. I added up statistics. There is a .5% chance that we would have this health issue.

Logic would point out that we have a 99.5% chance of NOT having it, but fear rubs the .5% in my face. All I could imagine was that .5%. What it would feel like or how it would happen?

My life is surrounded by a million things to be fearful of. Adoption issues, finances, health, is Russia going to annex Texas next? So many things…

Honestly, I don’t usually let these things bother me. However there are days when I have my guard down and begin to let my mind wonder in all the wrong ways.

Tonight it got to be more than I could take. I went into my bathroom and prayed. I told God that I was not leaving until I felt His presence. I was not getting out until I’d heard Jesus speak to me about this. No, I’m not talking about anything weird or crazy. It’s more an unexplainable peace and calm. Words that run through my mind, but they are not my own thoughts. A sense of Him with me.

I stood there. Nothing. I stood longer. Even longer. Still nothing but me and cold bathroom tiles.

Then, without any warning I began to cry. Not a single tear down the face. A deep, bellowing kind of cry that  told of the things I’d been carrying for so long. This wasn’t about the .5%, it was about something much deeper. I leaned on the wall and sobbed. I couldn’t hold it in if I tried. The poison had to come out. All of it. So I cried some more.

Then came the voice I so desperately needed to hear. More like a whisper rolling through my mind. ” It’s okay baby girl. Lean on me and let’s cry it out“. I lost it. Rolling through my mind was every scene I dreaded, every conversation that haunted me and possibility of “what if” that froze my joy. And out of my soul came the deepest sobs.

How long I stood there with my hot tears I don’t know. I didn’t care. Over and over in my mind I heard “It’s okay, baby. I’ve got this. Don’t worry baby girl…”.

Time seemed to stand still as my tears dried up. I felt my spirit stretching again – fear had shoved it in the corner for far too long. I recalled all the promises I believe that God has given me along my journey and chose to trust that the One who made the promise is the One who keeps the promise.

I don’t know all of your stories or what has bullied you into a corner. Maybe its fear like me. Maybe an abusive history, depression, loneliness, deep insecurity or a relationship on the brink. I don’t know what corner you are in or how long its been your home.

Thing is, everyone I know has a corner but no one belongs there.

Sometimes on nights like tonight we need to stop dragging around the shadow of our bully. We’ve got to look it in the eyes, see it for all it is and then slowly -through our tears- smile. Cause we remember that corners are too small for us. No matter how big or ugly this bully is, it’s no match for our Maker. He didn’t make us for corners.

Whether the pain is reality or something that taunts us from a million “what if’s”, we weren’t made to be controlled by it.

Go ahead. Let the tears come and get the poison out.

There is something in us that needs to shout that we are alive and we aren’t giving up. We won’t be put in our corners any longer. —> click to tweet

Interestingly enough, Passover begins tonight. It is the holiday which celebrates when God brought His people out of  3,000 years of captivity. Thankfully, He has never stopped setting His people free. 

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‘Later’ is a dream killer

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I’m about four days into my return from Burundi. Africa left it’s mark on me in so many ways – as it always does. I’m sure I will ramble words here in future posts that explore more of what happened in me during my time there. For now, most of those thoughts are still unraveling in my mind.

There was this phrase though that tumbled across my mind. It popped up when I was sitting with orphans in shelters, listening to drummers up high in the mountains and watching the hippos climb out of Lake Tanganyika. It was there when I laid on my bed under the mosquito net that draped like a canopy over me.

‘Later’ is a dream killer.

All throughout Africa I thought about this – a million reasons that trip shouldn’t have been able to happen. Except we decided that this was the time to move forward with our adoption. For all the reasons ‘now’ seems impossible, it isn’t.

And so we said, not later. Now.

We took a risk. And people showed up. Donations came in to help cover the cost and  a village of people surrounded my husband and helped him take care of the kids while I was away. I found myself thinking how amazing the world really is when we just step outside our front doors and start walking towards the things we feel called to.

That dream we want to chase, the idea we feel destined to birth or the relationships we aspire to build are all threatened by this simple thought. I’ll do it later.

It is true that we don’t know what tomorrow will hold and that the future has zero guarantees. But, I don’t think that is what makes ‘later’ so dangerous.

Putting things off until later reveals not only a false view of the future, but a troublesome insight into the way we see our present.

What is wrong with right now?

I am not brave enough.

I don’t deserve it. 

There isn’t enough money or time now. The future will be different.

I can’t handle it yet. There is too much I still need to learn.

I am too afraid. Afraid that I will fail, that I will loose or even worse – that I was not made to do it after all.

There are a million reasons we say ‘not now’. And those are the very reasons that ‘later’ will never happen.

The future version of ourselves is always better. We have more money, we are confident and shake off the haters with a passing glance. Our future selves don’t fear failure or making bad decisions. Our future selves are deserving of good things – weaknesses are a thing of the past. We are no longer afraid of ourselves in ___ years.

The future is where we imagine our dreams can happen.

Our assumption is that things will change by the mere passage of time. But, that isn’t how it works.

The future is painted by what we do today.

We gotta look at all the real reasons we say ‘later’. All of our walls we hide behind or the excuses we make that let us get away with being people we aren’t proud to be. Time doesn’t change the way we see ourselves. We gotta deal with our reasons head-on. If not, today’s excuses will become tomorrow’s excuses.

Yea, we may not be able to do all of our dreams right now. We have families, jobs and financial responsibilities that we need to take care of. However, most of the time it isn’t really responsibility that stops us. It is a belief that right now, we can’t. We aren’t enough and don’t have what it takes.

It is my personal belief that we are all created by God with an eternal destiny within us. We were made for more than haphazard living with idealistic views that one day it will all be different. Each of us holds something valuable. Right now. Today. Even if it is baby steps, we gotta start walking towards something bigger.

Let’s create the things, have the conversations, board the planes and start the businessesLet’s be honest about the lies that tell us that it can’t begin now. ‘Cause we got dreams people. And ‘later’ is a dream killer.

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Go ahead, dreamer. Do the crazy thing.

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You know. That ‘thing’.

It never seems to go away. The idea, the dream, the passion, the vision that stays ever before you. The ‘what if’ scenario that resurfaces in your imagination – over and over and over. No matter how you try and rationalize it out of your psyche, it keeps coming back. As if you were made to think it. Born to do it.

Sometimes they are big and busting at the seams with meaning. Others are simple whims that buzz around your head making you smile as you think of them. If only, you think to yourself. If only I had the time, the money, the capacity, the opportunity…If only I could do it.

My gypsy soul has done some crazy things.

I fell in love when I said I wouldn’t. So in love, I married at age 21. The thing I was too young to do.

For years I dreamed of Seattle. Going and living in that vibrant city which sits on the edge of the next-big-thing all the time. When I was 23 I went there to plant a church. And I did. I did the thing that looked impossible.

I have a passion for travel. So, I became a travel agent. The dream job for me in so many ways. I made no money at it and didn’t renew my license. I did the crazy thing that failed…and it wasn’t that bad.

Seattle became a home beyond what I could have imagined. So much of what defined me was there and one day we felt the nudge of God to let it all go. Pack up and move on to the next thing. So, despite many tears…I moved. I did the thing that felt like it would kill me, but it didn’t.

Graduate school has been a passion of mine for years. I decided to study for the GRE…hours I studied and then never took it. I did the thing that never went anywhere but taught me so much anyway.

I have two kids and am adopting two more. I am doing the thing that seems beyond my capacity.

I am trying to write a book. I am doing the thing that intimidates me.

I am pursuing my passion to see an end to human trafficking and work with an organization to see the 27 million slaves in the world set free. I am doing the thing that seems too big for me. The dream that has always felt intangible and distant. The dream that scares me the most.

So many things.

Crazy, beautiful, motivating. Ideas and dreams I couldn’t shake.

Thoughts that didn’t seem to matter to anyone else – they were the thoughts that wouldn’t leave me alone. I do things that seem impressive to others and things that people find trivial. I do things that no one else understand but God and myself. Some I do well and others I fumble. But I do them.

Go ahead. You were made to do the crazy things.

The idea you tinker with in your spare time. Things so crazy no one has done yet. Or things so seemingly ordinary people don’t understand your passion for it. Lives so brave they make the complacent uncomfortable. Focus so wild it intimidates the giants who say it can’t be done. You were made for this.

So go ahead. Do them. Do the crazy things.

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