Wednesday, April 15, 2015

10 Years

10 years is a long time. Yet, a decade can pass us by just like the blink of an eye. 

Read this quote once, printed on the wall at a pizza joint. This crazy author man who I kind of admire named Oscar Wilde said, "No man is rich enough to buy back his past."

On this day, near this time, exactly a decade ago my past was stamped with tragedy and my 'perfect' world was changed forever.

A loss I have been marked by and mourned ever since.

Milestones like this one often carry with them something that turns the tide. A lesson that requires reflection before demanding you make a choice based on the knowledge you now have.

10 years after losing my mother. Making it here, I am faced with the scene of my life looking vastly different than I thought it would.

When I consider my progress, my process, everything is ongoing still. My accomplishments, my circumstances, are still not what I thought they would be.

I can't say that they are better or worse. What I can say is that my life is not littered with senseless things or fruitless experiences. That, I feel, is good.

On the outside, I feel I don't have much to show. Yet, while I know am still healing, I also know my soul is well. My spirit, rich.

Last night, I met this woman who is in her 'later years' and she told of the hard, sorrowful life that she has endured. Outliving siblings, her husband and even a son. My heart questioned my God asking, "Jesus, what becomes of people like us?" Those who feel isolated and alone in that which they did not choose.

Then poignant lyrics* seeped in like raindrops on my soul,

Your Love is sweeter than honey,
Your Love is stronger than death
Your Love lifts me of my burdens
...teaches me to dance

In that moment, I felt the promises of a Father for His daughter over this woman I'd only just met. Promises to never leave or forsake her. Promises of a hope that will last her far beyond all those years.

I was moved by the tears she shed in sharing her story, as they dried into this small, sweet smile by the end of our night together. The glimmer in her eye spoke of something more.

(Later I also learned why, that just a few weeks before she had made the decision to give the seemingly little she has left, to Jesus. To follow Him with everything into whatever is next.)

Driving home, I was so grateful for our conversation. It reminded me of all that I have been challenged with throughout this past week. Like how I can't spend my life being ruled by my emotions, instead I must every day choose peace, choose joy.

Doesn't mean I'll never cry, or miss what was. It means rest in remembering what holds the most value. Fixing my eyes on the eternal.

Trials and tribulation will come, Jesus said, but be of good cheer.
Don't store your treasure where moths and rust can destroy, He warned, but where every tear will be wiped away and death is overcome.
To follow him, we must be ready to forsake all- even fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, husbands and wives- because ultimately we take nothing with us.

Doesn't mean all else is not of value. Just means there is order in the Kingdom. It means my priority above every good thing, every precious relationship, must be Jesus. Because it is from him that all else flows and multiples.

To this day when I think of my beautiful mother, when I consider the purity of her face, I recognize that though she had a wealth of good things on earth, her treasure was truly in heaven.

She understood that for us, Home, is a world away.

Every April 15th, I am met with something that should daily impact me. The truth that I was created for more than I can physically collect on this earth. We all were. And if we are to make the most of our few days, we will live like we own nothing and have access to everything.

By following Jesus to whatever end. To whatever height. Through whatever dark valley. Holding the brilliance of His Kingdom in our heart....

And if there is some thing else hidden inside that we would not part with tomorrow, we must be brave enough to reevaluate that idol which grips our inmost part.

* 'Lockstep' - Will Reagan & United Pursuit Band

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Foreign Sons in Twin Cities

About this time last week, my best friends' band was playing this local show at some hole in the wall place I had never heard of. The place wasn't much bigger than a small, poorly-lit karaoke bar with narrow hallways and a weird back room where the merch was being sold. Yet, circumstances rarely matter when I get to see my friends (who are more like my family) play their hearts out doing what they love.

Each time I hear their set it's like a roadtrip down memory lane. I think of the years in those practice spaces, song after song, just to produce these faithful ones. They unveiled a new track that night and I thought about their future and all the places they have yet to go, all the songs that have yet to be sung and all the lives they have yet to touch and change with their music.

Those feelings are what made me stick around and listen to the headliner, as a lot of that band's friends and family were present, too. With each song the crowd of 30 plus people grew tighter and tighter together creating this semi-circle around the band that added to the fact that they opted for the intimate setting of playing on the floor. Towards the end of the set, there were a handful of guys in the front who seemed highlighted above the rest. Probably, because they might as well have been singing into the microphone right along with the lead singer. They were zealous, but not in a selfish way. It was apparent their passion was a product of love.

A sign of respect.

A gift of belief.

The sight moved me and caused a single question to rise in my mind, especially as I noticed a couple of my friends standing in my peripheral...

What does it look like for us to celebrate one another? 

Since then I have wondered why as a society we are so prone to elevate people who are famous or distant from us above the ones who are closest to us in proximity and heart. Why do we gloss over the aspirations and achievements of the human beings in our own house?  Why is it so hard to celebrate one another?

I have seen and experienced how bitter, afraid hearts carrying around hurt and unforgiveness can manifest anger, envy, hate, jealousy and shame. All of which cause disease and death in friendship, in family, in community. These attitudes and spirits have no place in right relationships.

In good relationships.

In healthy relationships.

Oh, but if we would just honor. I have been surrounded and swept up by what that simple word acted out in everyday life can do, too. It's about deep friendship and the kind of intimacy in community that that changed the world as we know it thousands of years ago. (Check out a crazy book called Acts in the Bible.) It looks like truly getting to know people and continuing to pursue knowledge of who they are, what they love and where they are going. Sure people change and their are seasons, but regardless of what stage of life you are in....aren't they worth fighting for?

If so, it's a matter of investing in people as they are-right here, right now- rather than who they used to/might  be. We can't take for granted what was always there and do the same old thing holding out for the same feelings of the past. It's time to do something new, press in! Or, honestly, just get out. This life is not all about you. And believe me I am preaching to myself, too.

During the show, I watched these guys pushing each other and jumping on one another's backs, passionately singing the lyrics with their friends. While the other onlookers held up phones or quietly sang to themselves. I sensed that these few up front were taking personally the words a single one of them had written, penned from his heart. They shouted them back with reckless abandon as if the words were their own. It made an unimpressive room stand still for a moment and I felt my heart begin to smile.

Something beautiful and inspiring was being revealed to me: community. This is what is looks like to push one another forward, this is what it is like to climb on each other's backs. Not just because it's fun, but because it does something to our souls. It moves us. It affirms who we are.

It's a picture that says, "We're in this together and this is how much I am for you. This is to what lengths I will believe in your dream. You're not pursuing your destiny alone, I am with you. I will not hinder you with my non-participation or my backstabbing tongue, but encourage and elevate you above myself whenever I get the chance."

Really, we can all learn a few lessons about pursuing authentic and duplicatable community from some more than dedicated fans at a small rock-n-roll show in Vegas:

Show up. This really is half the battle. Not out of obligation or some other wrongly motivated expectation. Simply wanting to support the people around you and share in their journey, is huge. Being present carries more weight than we realize. It doesn't mean standing around and being a lifeless body, taking up space a more genuine and enthusiastic person could fill.

It means connecting your heart to the hearts of those in your immediate sphere of influence-right in front of you. Choosing to see them, champion them and join them while you have the amazing opportunity of sharing the same space and time.

Sing other people's songs. We each have a song, a story to tell, it's time we shamelessly plug our friends in life. Because if we don't think they are awesome, if we are not inspired by their potential , then why are we with them? Why are wasting their time? Let's not selfishly take from the beauty of those around us. Let's not bleed others dry; let's feed and magnify who they are, by shouting their chorus together.

Let someone get on your back. As we grow with people, there comes a point where we are either keeping people mediocre (or worse keeping them under our foot) or creating a standard for ourselves in relationship that ultimately allows others to stand on our backs and springboard into their destinies. We allow them to thrive. We allow them to spur us on in the process as well. Supporting and serving someone else causes me to be better too. At the end of the day, it is in our best interest to give wholeheartedly of who we are.

Oh, to bear fruit and eat of it, too.

Friday, January 2, 2015

What does 2015 look like for you?

I read a quote the other day about how memories are monuments we build but we must look forward and continue to dream or we stop living.

When I look back over 2014, the faithfulness of the Lord was proven true in a new way for me-His material provision. He gave me a place to rest my head, a job, increased income, and before the year was over he even gave me a car. Precious time with family and friends that I may never get again. Adventures I will never be able to recreate on my own. And yet there is more.

With Jesus there is always more. 

2015 for me means more opportunities to learn and to teach. More moments of building family and pouring into the relationships around me. More adventures to be had and more gifts to steward. It is a good time to be alive. One worth being more vulnerable than ever before as I pursue being the woman God created me to be day after day.

" grow up is to accept be alive is to be vulnerable,"
 - Madeleine L'Engle

I don't know what will happen in the next three hundred plus days. I like that though. I like that God won't just tell me. He'd rather I discover my life through relationship with Him. As my relationship with Him grows in depth, our greatest dreams together will be revealed. And experienced, yes!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014



tonight i noticed someone (or multiple someones) decided to go into my posts from a couple years ago. so i, too, revisited my musings from a time not so long ago. and i found parts of my soul again. i noticed where God planted things in my heart for youth and women, arts and creativity, worship and teaching. where He marked me with the fear of the Lord, authenticity, vulnerability and prayer. where He knocked me over with His kindness and His love and challenged me with His character and His justice. these past few years have been quite revealing. i once was dead sleep, but now i am awake. and i find my eyes are still adjusting to the light as i learn to walk around. and engage all that surrounds me. thank God for grace. that He is so patient with me. with me coming to terms with who i am and thriving in my own skin. thank God for grace. for struggles and wins. i am glad to be able to look back and gaze upon who i have been, who i still am and who i am becoming. i know i must only see one piece to the intricate 1000 piece puzzle that is me. thank God my life is an adventure. and Jesus wants to be with me -through it all.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Take a Moment

"Take a moment to remember who God is and who I am 
There you go lifting my load again

No longer am I held by the yoke of this of world
Come up under the yoke of Jesus
His yoke is easy, His burden is so light"
- Will Reagan and United Pursuit

Spending time with my tribe in this season of deepening our relationships and enlarging our family has been one of Awakening. Not too surprising since that is one thing that I have chosen to carry. A part of me that I am passionate to walk out for the rest of my days.

God is giving me the eyes to see identity and the hunger to fight for it. My desire is for people to know God and to know who they are as a result of the overflow of the Love they feel. By being in His Presence. By seeking His Word. By encountering His character and being undone by His heart for them. 

Our circumstances and relationships are all meant to draw us into deeper relationship with Jesus. To give us a deeper understanding of the Father. As we fall in love with the Holy Spirit. It is all about Him. And our knowing, like really knowing, Him. It goes beyond knowledge, it's about being convinced in our hearts. He wants us to see Him, to touch Him, by our faith.

What will it take for us to trust? And let go of our wants, how we want them, when we want them? Trading them in for the wild unfolding of all that we presently lack the imagination to fathom.
Getting into God (who He is and how He loves), spending time with Him -and alongside a tribe that is doing the same- leads us into who we really are and what it is that we actually want.

We become who we were made to be and a beautiful life therein unfolds.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

"Definitely an Adventure of a Lifetime!"

It seems like me and most people I know are still trying to figure out how to flesh out our passions and the vision for what we were made to do in this life. It's interesting. That so many people are in the same place of still figuring it out or just starting out even.

So, first off:
It is so easy to feel like we are alone in this.
But that is a lie.
Even when we feel lonely we are never alone (but that's another post for another time).
We are in this transition together.

We are really just feeling the tension of needing to rest when all we want is do.
Or needing to do when we have become so comfortable in the waiting room.
There is a balance to be achieved.
But we must start from a place of resting, for that is where vision ultimately overflows.
For some of us, it starts as a trickle and quickly hits waterfall status,
And for others it is a steady build.
In both cases it requires us to still our souls and return to our first Love.
To listen and learn,
And then go from there.

So, to all my friends with aching, unmet passions churning inside-
You are actually much closer than you think-
Don't be afraid to take a little more time,
Because there is no way you can miss it.
With eyes and heart set on the One who knows every hair on your head,
Remember He is capable and faithful to all that you are,
To all that you are becoming,
And will be in time.

Here is to the dreamers who will soon be introduced to the face of our dreams.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Joy Unspeakable

"These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full."
-John 15:11*

The elderly little black man sitting across from me on the bus this morning made my day. In his crimson polo, dark slacks, holding his matching briefcase and baseball cap. His demeanor was so content for those eleven stops or so. He left all too soon with the hour plus I had ahead of me. But sitting there, facing him, gave me such peace. His presence was felt. He looked like a father. And seasoned veteran. Hard-working and kind. I don't know his story, but much like his quiet humming he was simple yet impressionable. As he exited at his requested stop, he turned and offered such a genuine "Thank you" to the driver that I couldn't help but smile. And think...he gave me joy that he will probably never know of this side of heaven.

Only God knows how many of us are affected by unsuspecting people who are guilty of living their lives well. Living notably. Authentically. In a way that can speak to a stranger and touch a soul without any words.

I want to be that for someone else. And I want to experience this kind of thing everyday.

"The lives that have been the greatest blessing to you are the lives of those people who themselves were unaware of having been a blessing."- Oswald Chambers* 

*My Utmost for His Highest, August 31