Tag Archives: something bigger

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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Living Your History

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image: Joel Robinson

It was the start to a truly great love story. A boy. A girl. A chase through the rain…

I was 19 and running through the pounding rain. The library could be seen through the science buildings about 100 yards away. My legs were getting tired. They had carried me out of my dorm room, down three flights of stairs and across campus in a mad dash.

But I was driven.

You see, there was this boy. He’d been crazy about me for some time, but I was just too slow to see it. A million reasons and excuses blocked my view of the good thing right in front of me. I had dreams and ideals that I stubbornly clung to.

What if I  could meet a guy in Italy instead? What if a stranger with a killer accent approached me from across a crowded room? What if my dream job will get replaced by falling in love? What if this is the peak of life – and it’s just all downhill from here? What if this story is really a tragedy?

The soundtrack to my own life was drowned out by my  self-doubts. It was safer to fall in love in my head. Things always went my way – I never had a bad hair day or said awkward things on dates. And, of course, he was always charming. Any argument was resolved by the arrival of a large bouquet of my favorite flowers.  Love in my imagination always worked out.

Truth be told, I always played it safe in real life. Friendships, goals, career plans, my social life – you name it. Always lived in the realm of my control.

Yet, another life was happening in my mind. I was bold. A vibrant soul who made the witty comments and traveled the borders. A life full of chances and risks that made my heart pound and my mind race. The kind of daring that only comes when you really, truly understand just how much this life holds within it. That was the life I lived in my mind.

And that was the kind of love story I wrote inside my head. One of risk. Of being so in love it didn’t matter what he said back. My tongue just had to utter the words.

I don’t know what exactly came over me during that thunderstorm. I guess God hit me upside the head enough that the narrative burst and exposed the truth in front of me. I liked the boy back. And I had to tell him. Now. I had to tell him right now.

He normally studied in the library at night so I took off across campus to find him. I didn’t have a cell phone at the time, so I went blindly.

Soaked to the bone and out of breath I ran into the library. I know I must have looked a mess, but I didn’t care. I had something to say to a boy. For about 30 minutes I roamed the aisles of books, peeked in the reading cubicles and scanned the study groups. He wasn’t there.

I headed back out into the storm. A smile flashing across my face at the absurdity of it all. Back through the rain to my car. I drove to his house. Knocked on the door. Dripping wet, I stood before him and blurted out “I like you.”.

Next month we will have been married 11 years. 

So often we miss the story before us because of a preoccupation with our internal narrative. We have clever conversations with others inside our minds, live daring adventures and feel emotions deep in our bones. So deep it is almost terrifying – but we are safe because it isn’t real. It’s just a fantasy we feed to satisfy the hunger within.

Our hunger for the life we imagine.

It’s time to do and become. It’s time to live the stories we write in our heads. –> click to tweet.

Real life hurts sometimes. Makes you want to curl up on the floor and cry out for some relief.  There are years where the failures just seem to keep piling on. The friendships are intertwined with rejection and love has to be fought for day in and day out. Plans crumble before your eyes and our lifelines fray at alarming rates.

But, live we must. Because we are made to do it. Because for every tragic turn there is a persistent Hope that whispers, “It’s gonna get better and I’ll hold you until it does.”.

Go on. Hash out the stories you’ve been writing in your head. Hold the hands of the people who walk beside you. Create the adventures you crave in that nearly forgotten part of your soul. Give grace to yourself and others along the way – you’re gonna need it.

Your history cannot be borrowed. It must be lived. 

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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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What about small middles?

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photo source unknown

I have a love-hate relationship with this phrase : Don’t despise the days of small beginnings.

Here is the part I love: Small beginnings can have big endings. You know, the whole thing about a small acorn holding within it a big oak tree.

Here is the part I hate: What happens when the “beginning” was ten years ago?

What if we are in the middle and it is still small? No resources, no recognition and no growth at the beginning is expected. Things take time…but eventually time passes and we can’t really say we are in the beginning anymore.

Nope, we are smack in the middle now. Some of us still find ourselves with no resources, no recognition and no growth. I’m gonna be honest here.

I despise the days of small middles.

It’s just not fair.

Maybe you dream of being a photographer and started taking pictures a few years ago as a side gig until you had enough business to do it full time. Now, its five years later, you are still taking pictures and working that second job because the photo business isn’t growing the way you hoped.

Perhaps your marriage and family life started out rocky. You poured your time and energy into improving it. Years later, here you are. Still struggling with the same hurdles.

That vintage resale business you launched on Instagram last year has made you a total of $50 over the course of 12 months. Why is there so little to show for your passion and hard work?

As if our small middle wasn’t bad enough, there always seems to be someone who started after we did that has already passed us up. The blogger who got a book deal after a year, the pastor who grew his church to thousands in no time flat, and the entreprenur who seems to know exactly which houses to flip.

Then comes the dread.

Am I not as gifted as I thought? Did I miss my calling? Do people see me as a failure? Why is everyone else gaining ground and I can’t get traction to save my life?

Fear and insecurity come in to rob any hope we have left.

Yeah, maybe some people are pursuing the wrong thing. I could work 24 hours a day to become a great singer, but that ship will never sail. Chasing the wrong dream may be some people’s problem, but I think it is more the exception than the rule.

So, why shouldn’t we be discouraged by our small middles? 

No matter how much planning we have done or how visionary we are, we don’t see the entire picture. Our lives are always part of something bigger than we know.

I’ll be honest with you – I am smack in the middle of small middles in so many areas. It is painful, frustrating and down-right embarrassing sometimes. The other day I was feeling particularly annoyed at my little middle when I remembered one of my favorite Bible verses:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11

The plans for my life are beyond what I am aware of. Maybe what I am creating goes deeper than I knew it could and roots take time to grow in order to support great things eventually. Or perhaps the things that are being produced aren’t as obvious as my measuring tools would like.

To all of you reading who are in the middle of a small and unimpressive middle – I see you and I get it.

I see the dreams that are waiting to come out and the vision just itching to be lived. The desperate hope that you will be able to pull it off and become something grander that you are now. The deep belief that somehow you are more than meets the eye at the moment.

You are.

You are far more than can be seen right now. Don’t worry if there isn’t much to show yet. Things are happening – going deeper and broader than you are aware. The intangibles might be weaving themselves together behind the scenes. In 20 years you may look back and realize that this – this seemingly small middle – was actually where the most growth happened.

This is where you chose to dig in your heels and believe that you were made for something bigger.

Because you are. 

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