FINDING BEAUTY IN THE JOURNEY

FINDING BEAUTY IN THE JOURNEY

I’m currently flying home from a quick week trip to Europe. It was partially work and partially fun. Once upon a time I was a missionary in Vienna working with kids at an international school as their elementary chaplain and counselor. After 6 years away I had “all the feels” at finally being back in my European “home” city. I walked through the city my first night there and took in all the familiar sites and smells. I felt completely at home surrounded by a sea of people from around the world. My German fooled the shopkeepers momentarily and the pastries were still swoon-worthy. I walked miles that evening simply taking it all in. My heart was full and I breathed out “thank you, Jesus” with nearly every breath. 

One of my dearest friends lives with her Viennese husband and their two girls just outside the city. I took an entire duffle bag full of American treats to them and I’m lugging the same duffle bag back home full of European treats. A couple of nights ago I had their 4-year-old daughter on my lap and we were reading through one of the Christmas books I had brought. I

A LETTER TO ALEPPO

A LETTER TO ALEPPO

To the people of eastern Aleppo,

I was asked to write about your city this weekend. I just spent two hours researching to try to understand and make sense of it all. It’s complicated. It’s desolate. It’s maddening.

But here I am sitting in a Starbucks drinking a warm Gingerbread Latte. I’m listening to Christmas music. I have five layers on—inside—because rooms in America are never warm enough for me.

I feel safe.

MOVE OVER FOR MILLENNIALS

MOVE OVER FOR MILLENNIALS

His text lit up my phone like a Christmas tree. “Can we meet for breakfast?” It came from one of the guys who went to Africa with me and it seemed important, so I swallowed my fatigue and lack of coherence and said sure. 

Ben and I had just spent 10 days in Burkina Faso, West Africa. We went with Envision and we traveled in the bush, the wild places of Africa with no access to phone or internet. We built a church, saw some wells our church helped to dig and met some of the most incredible people. Coming home, I was looking forward to spending time with my family and catching up with them, but Ben seemed to want to meet urgently.

A PRAYER FOR MIXED MOTIVATIONS

A PRAYER FOR MIXED MOTIVATIONS

Abba,

You said that whatever we do for the least of these, we do for you. And yet, as I open my heart and put my hand to the plow to cultivate this small corner of your creation, I become aware of a tangle of motivations behind my service. Part of me wants to try to earn your approval, even though it is boundless and given freely. Part of me just wants to be liked. Part of me wants to do this myself, Lord, and to take the glory that rightly belongs to you. 

BY WAY OF THE WILDERNESS

BY WAY OF THE WILDERNESS

Sometimes, life doesn’t turn out the way we planned. The death of loved ones, unemployment, unfulfilled dreams, failed relationships, denied visas, sickness… the list goes on.

There are some chapters in life that we just don't understand. They seem to derail us from the journey we expected to be on, the milestones we thought were certain. All of a sudden, we find ourselves on a different path, reeling with grief, confusion, and anger. We want answers, we want clarity, but these don't come. It's in these moments, that we approach a fork in the road, leaving us with two options. Do we continue to trust that He's good? Do we press in to believe the truth that He's got this; or do we allow for doubt to be planted into our souls and start questioning His goodness? Is He really a God to be trusted? 

FELLOWSHIP IN THE TRENCHES

 FELLOWSHIP IN THE TRENCHES

He is standing before a drapery of smoke. Hair sweaty and long. There is a sword on his back, and when he draws it the metal shings in the silence. He smiles at me, then turns and runs into the fray.

This is how I’ve seen Jesus lately, and I think it points to an important truth: true fellowship with Christ is found in the trenches of our mission. Oftentimes, I am crying out for a greater sense of God’s nearness. Sometimes it’s as if I can see his form, but not his face, and my soul feels like it will break, like I can’t possibly wait to be closer to him. Led by the Spirit, this intimacy has the potential to grow like “an oak of righteousness” throughout our lives as disciples, but I think there is a key element, a “fertilizer,” if you will, that we often neglect.  

PLAN YOUR LIFE

PLAN YOUR LIFE

"Why can't I know God's plan for my life? Doesn't He understand that I want to serve Him? Why don't I have that BIG HAIRY AUDACIOUS GOAL that everyone talks about! When can I start living life?"

Ron, one of my mentors, without skipping a beat knew exactly what to say, "You don't need God's ultimate plan for your life. You just need to focus in on Jesus, and He'll give you the next step."

BRUISES

BRUISES

One morning as I was spending time in the presence of the Lord, I asked—confident I had no outstanding issues, and things basically covered—“What do You want me to see?” 
I got the word “bruises.”  

That’s kind of a funny word, isn’t it? While I have forgiven everyone I can think of who had ever hurt me, I realized then that I still might have a few bruises. That got me thinking.

ONCE WE WERE SLAVES

ONCE WE WERE SLAVES

This Easter season, my family decided to celebrate a rudimentary version of a Passover Seder. It wasn’t orthodox by any means (our discount grocery store didn’t carry lamb, so we had pork loin), but we ate foods symbolic of the Exodus and, with an Internet connection at hand, explained the significance of each and our liberation through Christ’s sacrifice. It was a spiritually-rich evening for us and our kids, but ever since then, one phrase from the Haggadah has been ringing continually in my soul.

Once we were slaves. Now we are free. 

4 WAYS TO GO FROM DREAMING TO DOING

4 WAYS TO GO FROM DREAMING TO DOING

I actually get sick of prayer meetings.

I know, I'm not supposed to say that. But I've run into so many young adults, and even old adults that think they are young adults who are still "praying" about their next decision, still "waiting-on-God" to provide for them a spouse, a house, a job, a German shepherd, etc.

While there is a place for praying about decisions and waiting on the Lord, I want to pull the pendulum back a bit and talk about getting things done. It's not enough to want to change the world...but you actually have to start moving in that direction, or any direction. Just start moving!