September 21, 2016

Unreasonable Hope

Well, since my last blog post I've read 3 more books. I've fallen into a bit of a new rhythm in this phase of life, I've been working, not a ton but more and have another wedding I'm shooting this Saturday (and I was supposed to be in LA this weekend for my dear friend's 40th birthday party, hate to miss - Love you, Ems!). Things with the house are slow as molasses but we are CLOSE to FINALLY breaking ground. Brennan is doing well in 4th grade and won her first volleyball game last week! I've been waiting nearly 10 years for my girl to play volleyball and I am LOVING it! Adam is getting into the swing of his new job/commute and we're all settling into a new normal around here.

As always, God continues to work on my heart and mold me into the person He wants me to be. For 2ish years now I have been a voracious reader, reading anything that I feel will enlighten me, encourage me, inspire me, remind me of the truth, challenge me, help to make me better- more like Jesus, and to bring purpose/understanding to my pain. We all have deep wounds we bring to the table, no one in this life is unscathed, that's the human experience and a common thread that ties us all together regardless of our circumstance.

I recently read the book "Unreasonable Hope" by Chad Veach. In all honesty, I wasn't too interested in reading this book. Chad and his wife moved from Washington to Los Angeles to start a church about a year ago. Due to the internet I knew a bit about Chad and his family, I knew his daughter had a life threatening illness, I knew he was a "big shot" pastor in that he can be found hanging out with celebrities and he and his wife always looks like they just walked out of a photo shoot. This isn't meant to sound derogatory, I'm sure they're amazing people who I'd love to know personally, there just wasn't anything in particular that made me want/eager to read his book. (*sidenote: Adam, B and I attended his church in LA one Sunday, and although they are doing an amazing thing in LA, it just wasn't for us, so we did have a personal encounter as well). Anyhoo -sorry, that was a long paragraph to not say much. Okay, so, this book was an honest look at a dad's heart who longs and believes for his sick daughter to be healed. What eventually made me decide to read this book was I couldn't shake the cover, it reads: "Unreasonable Hope: Finding faith in the God who brings purpose to your pain." In a season where I've been longing and crying out for God to bring purpose to my pain, I couldn't not read it, it was too enticing and that tagline is what I've been so thirsty for. There were many "nuggets" here and there throughout the book, and in line with most books I've been reading, it reminded me of what I know to be true about God. My "take away" from the book was the distinction that Chad makes between having faith in God and having hope. "You have so much faith in who I am and what I can do, but you have no hope for your situation." (pg. 177) This isn't a new concept for me per se, I know there have been times in my life where I prayed to God for something, believing He heard me and I had faith He cared, but I know I had little hope that He would "do" what I was asking of Him because it just seemed too impossible (and of course we're actually supposed to pray believing). In one large area of my life to which I'm referring -He answered my years and years worth of prayers despite my unbelief/hope. Man, I'm thankful the Lord works in spite of us! So, this book didn't necessarily enlighten me to a new concept per se but it reminded me that there is a distinct difference between having faith and having hope -and even if your hope is unreasonable, God can do the unreasonable. There is currently an area of my life that I have little hope of getting fully healed, it just seems so unlikely on this side of heaven, and I'm learning to (in some ways) be okay with that because, life does indeed go on, but I appreciated Chad's reminder that I still need to live with hope that it can be healed, because God can do that, He can, even if He doesn't. Big sigh....Amen. xo

August 26, 2016

Rooted

Its been a pretty chill couple of weeks around here, we're all settling into our new routines and figuring life out a bit, feels good. Its been a weird phase of life for me for a few reasons, although I'm shooting here and there it will take time to re-build my business so while I'm used to editing most of the day I've had some free time....kinda weird. Also, typically we are leading a mi casa so I'm used to college students being in my house or preparing food for them, or meeting with them, etc. and we decided to wait a year to resume mi casa life due to our current lack of space, no dishwasher, 1 sketchy toilet situation, etc. :) And, on that note, we're not in our own space so, half of our stuff is in storage, we're building a house and will soon (please Lord) be busy with all that entails, and I just don't have all my normal tasks that I'd have if I were in my own space. All that to say, its been an interesting season of life for me and I'm trying some new things and reading some new books and trying to enjoy this "break" rather than be bummed by it (if that makes sense?). Adam is adjusting to his commute, poor guy left super early for work a couple days ago, he was going to work out at the gym first and he got all the way to Belton and realized he left his "school" clothes at home!! He had to make the 2 hour drive twice that day!! I have a feeling that will be the last time he makes that oops! B is liking school fine, school has never been her thing per se but she seems to be adjusting well and looks pretty cute in her uniform (if I do say so myself :). Our weekends have been fun and relaxed, its amazing how we'll go into the weekend with little on the agenda but then we'll get a text Friday at 5pm asking us to come over for dinner, and then Saturday some friends will see if we can do dinner that night, and then after church we do our usual post-church lunch with friends and then we've been resuming our drinks with friends Sunday evening before another week starts. Its fun how life organically happens here without a month's notice (which was CA life), it just feels right and good. Cousin Mike is coming into town next week so we're looking forward to seeing him and rooting on the Astros together, always fun. Speaking of root[ed] (see what I did there? ;) I just finished a book by Banning Liebscher called Rooted, the tagline is "the hidden places where God develops you." It seemed like a good read for this stage of my life and I've been reading it here and there the past 2 weeks and just finished it last night. There were some wise words on those pages, I thought I'd share a few of the "nuggets" that seem especially relevant to me at this place in my life (I like to pass on life-giving things, hope someone out there finds some good stuff here).

"I've had seasons in life where I've had nothing and seasons where I've had everything, I've developed the ability to thrive in both seasons by learning to access the resource that never changes, no matter the season, namely, Christ's strength."

"We'll never thrive in the process unless we accept the place where God has put us, because that is the only place He will work with us. Faithfulness and obedience call us to recognize what God is asking us to put our hands to and what He is emphasizing in our lives."

"God always calls us to do the impossible."

"God feels no pressure to rush or force His plan for our growth, He is calm, steady, and collected even when we want things to speed up. Our frustration will not make God speed up, because He knows we won't get the results we've prayed for."

"You have to learn to love the cave. If you love the spotlight more than the secret place, you're in trouble, because it means you care more about pleasing people than pleasing God. Learn to love when you don't get the credit. Learn to love when you get passed over."

"Tested, proven, genuine faith comes when we let God lead us into weakness. That is a reason to rejoice."

"You will never find satisfaction or experience what you were created for outside encountering the presence of God. Everything you will ever need is found in the presence of God, for it is there you find the reason you were created."

"We need an entire generation awake to what God can do and all the possibilities that flow from His ability. We are often more aware of what the Enemy can do than what God can do. We need to stop being impressed with darkness."

"I've found that there's almost nothing in life that we're supposed to figure out on our own."

"So what kind of legacy do you want to leave? You are chosen and appointed to bear fruit that lasts for eternity, just like David. just like Christ. But it's your choice to remain in Christ. Will you let Him teach you to trust Him at all times, even in weakness? Will you let Him plant you where He wants you, and will you embrace His time line for establishing your roots? Will you put your roots down deep in the soils of intimacy, serving, and community? Every day you get to choose between human success and God's success, between the temporal and the eternal...."

I'd recommend this book if you want to be reminded of what needs to take place in your life to be rooted in Christ, its an easy read with lots of good stuff. Have a great weekend, friends. xo


August 9, 2016

always something

We're back from vacation and it was lovely and wonderful and B starts school tomorrow so its come to an abrupt end. But its okay, its been quite a summer and I think we're all (mostly) ready for the fall/real life to resume.

I made mention a bit ago that recently my pastor's father died. On Sunday he preached about his dad and I was on a cruise ship so I missed it but I listened to the podcast this morning, as my friend warned me, it was an "ugly cry" resulting sermon. Josh's dad was also a pastor so as you can imagine, Josh has lots of stories and memories of his dad ministering to others and loving others well. Part of Josh's sermon that is resonating in my mind is when he recalled a conversation in which he asked his dad "why do some people believe in God and some don't?" to which is dad replied "those that have an experience with God, believe in God." Isn't that the truth? Haven't we all heard a story or two (or many) where someone has an encounter with God that is so profound, its life changing? That there literally can be no more room for doubt because of the experience that took place. I love those stories because they remind me of what I know to be true when I'm in a tough spot. I've encountered God...many times, and as I've said here many times, I would be the fool not to believe at this point. But it still begs the question of why God doesn't "show up" sometimes, doesn't it? Today I read a post that a mom wrote to her daughter and the part that struck me said "I am just as proud + in love with you when you fall down because I've learned that is where we find more of God." For me, this was the reminder that so often when we feel like God isn't "showing up" for us, its because in/thru/after that "hard" we will have found more of Him than we otherwise would have. It reminds me of the Jen Hatmaker quote I wrote here months and months ago, that perhaps we would 'squash the lovely vision if we obtained it too soon.' So really, by God "not showing up" He's actually showing up in ways we just can't see yet. As my wise (profoundly wise) aunt has said to me many times over the past 2 years "God is always doing something." I realize this isn't new information for this here blog, just sometimes it hits me in new ways and I write because I feel compelled to do so, maybe someone out there needed to hear it today?

Well, today is Adam's second day of his new job (which really, isn't work yet -just orientation), and B is a 4th grader tomorrow back at her old school, kinda feels like a time warp! And house stuff is still sloooooooooooooooooooooow, sigh. We are super close to the plans for the inside being done, the outside still needs some work but hopefully -we're on the final stretch! All in all, we're doing well and gearing up for another year! Hope everyone is having a lovely August! xo

July 28, 2016

someone else's prayer

I came across this prayer today and it spoke to my heart so I'm sharing it here.

it is in YOU Jesus that I have
found who i am and my purpose....
thank you for taking my hand in rescue
so that i can in turn take others hands connecting
Yours and theirs
my story has taught me compassion, transforming
me into someone who
can enter into others pain, even when it is different
than mine or i don't understand
i don't even care anymore
there isn't time to whine + be victims
we are sons and daughters of the KING
i want to stop the world for just a day and do nothing
but think on that truth
because if we did....really did....and really believed it.....
we would be
radically changed from the inside out
transformed into misfits, pioneers, warriors,
renegades, giant slayers
freedom fighters from another world....heaven!
going forth with no fear!!!
i know i have to forge ahead up the mountain with the
One i love
so much to still grow into but that is the adventure of
it all
it is never boring
some seasons are hard as hell but to be SET FREE!
i would climb a million mountains with you as my
companion Papa!! to help others with your story to
be set free
to LOVE and BE LOVED by TRUE LOVE HIMSELF
that is the PRIZE.

(Tiffani, House of Belonging)

July 25, 2016

lately

Summer is winding down for us and truth be told, I'm not too sad about it. As I've said, its been a weird summer for us and I'm getting ready for the normalcy the fall brings. This past week was pretty good, we had dinners with friends, B had a 24 hour play date which enabled Adam and I to spend the day in Austin which was lovely, B and Adam had some father/daughter dates and it was just a relaxing time. This past week was kinda hard too, our pastor Josh, his dad passed away and sadly, he passed on Josh's birthday which is just hard. It's times like these where I'm reminded just how precious life is and how quickly it can change, and how I want to live being intentional and thankful for the many gifts I've been given.

This week is our last week before our family vacation and then we get back and hit the ground running. Adam starts his new job the day after we get back and B starts school 3 days later! We really are in the final stretch of this weird summer and although parts were long and hard it really did go pretty darn fast overall. Tomorrow I meet with the house draft guy and we should be able to finalize our plans so we can FINALLY get a date on the calendar to break ground, I'm SO ready for that! Its amazing how many steps there are to this process, I'm ready to get the ball rolling! I hope everyone is having a good week, thanks for checking in on us! xo

July 18, 2016

house draft(s)

Well, we just got house draft #3 back from draft guy annnnnnd, its still not right. Sigh. I knew this process would be a lot of back and forth, its hard to communicate what's in your head sometimes but I didn't realize how long it would take to get each draft once changes were communicated. I was hopeful we would have broken ground by now but now its looking like August. Sigh. Today I made a list of changes for each room and it came out to 26 things that need to be changed/updated. This might sound like a lot but really, most of the changes are minor and in my mind should take 2 seconds to fix! The draft guy is out of the office all week (which...he was just out of the office for a week like 30 seconds ago) so that's frustrating b/c I was thinking maybe this week we could get the ball rolling! Just trying to take lots of deep breaths... we'll get there.

In other news it is SO nice to have Adam home! He started driving earlier than he had anticipated so he made it home Saturday versus Sunday and it was so fun to see him show up at our friend's house! We have a lazy week ahead of trips to the water park, movies, low key dinners,  play dates/overnights, etc. as summer should be. :) We're all ready for our cruise, 2 more weeks, can't wait! Hope everyone is having a relaxing summer and drinking lots of lemonade. xo

July 14, 2016

the final stretch

It's been a long week and a half, but we're in the final stretch before Adam comes home! This is just a weird summer for our family, we're SO elated to be here but its been hard too.Recently Adam was gone for almost a week, now he's in a 2 week stretch of being gone, we aren't going to the northwest like we usually do which is sad and poor B is having a hard time with that, etc. Its just not a typical summer and summer in Waco is like a ghost town, so many people are gone, Baylor isn't in session, etc.. just not the best place to be in July. :( Boo. Thankfully my mom was here this past week and she saved the day! (Happy birthday, Mom!). It was so nice for her to play with B, and to chat with me and to be a welcome distraction when our hearts are missing Adam and our typical summer plans. This week B is at gymnastics  camp and we have some play dates and fun things planned so we're gonna make it!

In other news I'm supposedly getting the third set of drafts for our house today, fingers crossed! We literally cannot do one thing until the final draft is right and its been lots of back and forth so here's to hoping this is "the one!" I know building a house is trying on the ol' patience so I'm trying to let it roll..this literally is just the beginning and I know that. {and anyone who knows me knows patience isn't my strong suit so...I'm sure I've got a big opportunity for growth here the next 9ish months!}

I've been asked a lot how B is doing with the move, if she's happy to be here, if she misses CA, etc. so I'll address that here. :) B is doing well, I have seen her "Come back to life" a bit since moving home, and I know she is thrilled to be here. This summer has been hard for the reasons listed above so that's definitely taken a toll but I think once school starts she'll be "back to normal" and this season will fade away. The other day I was buying something and the cashier asked to see my drivers license, he said "Oh, California huh?" and I said "Well, yeah, we live here now, I just haven't gotten a new license yet." And he proceeded to look at B and he said "Do you miss CA?" And without skipping a beat she said "Nope!" That made my heart smile. She's home, and it feels really good to her too. Happy sigh.

I try not to wish time away, believing that time really is precious and a gift but I sure am eager for it to be Sunday when Adam comes home! Prayers for him as he drives here from CA would be appreciated. :) As always, thanks for checking in. xo


July 2, 2016

beautiful things


This song is on repeat while I edit this morning, good reminder. xo



All this pain
I wonder if I'll ever find my way?
I wonder if my life could really change at all?
All this earth
Could all that is lost ever be found?
Could a garden come up from this ground at all?

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us

All around
Hope is springing up from this old ground
Out of chaos life is being found in You

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us

Oh, you make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust
You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of us
You make me new, You are making me new
You make me new, You are making me new
Making me new

You make beautiful things
(You make me new)
You make beautiful things out of the dust
(You are making me new, making me new)

You make beautiful things
(You make me new)
You make beautiful things out of us
(You are making me new, making me new)

Oh, you make beautiful things
(You make me new)
You make beautiful things out of the dust
(You are making me new, making me new)

You make beautiful things
You make beautiful things out of the dust

You make me new, You are making me new
You make me new, You are making me new

{Gungor}

July 1, 2016

summer is in full swing

Well, its July 1st and summer is in full swing around here! We bought season passes to our local water park and have been loving that! B's had play dates, volleyball camp, art camp starts next week, pool mooching at our friends, movie dates, and grandma is coming to visit next week while Adam is out of town! Fun! This week some of our mi casa kids have been in town so we've had some dinners with them, that is just about the best ever (and lucky us, some still live here!). Its crazy to see how much they've grown up in 2 years, where does the time go?! I was standing in a restaurant hugging one of them for a long time and the waitress came up to us and said "Aw, this is so sweet, are y'all best friends?" And Cameron looked at her and said "pretty much." Sweet Cam. Have I mentioned how good it is to be back here? :)

In other news, our land officially became ours yesterday! We signed on the dotted line and met our neighbors (who are the ones that sold us the land) and they are about the sweetest little old couple on the planet! The wife hugged me as we left the paper signing, so sweet! It made us really excited to move into the neighborhood and to get settled (and I'm pretty pumped to have a dr next door, that could come in handy!). We drove out to the land last night to watch the first sunset and some of our besties joined us and brought drinks/solo cups to cheers to what lies ahead. It was a really sweet moment and I feel like I'm just relishing in God's faithfulness. Its a pretty sweet place to be.

I've been asked a lot when we will break ground, we're hopeful to break ground this month! Getting the house plans back from the draftsman is a sloooooow process, and inevitably there are changes that need to be made to the drafts still so, that's.... a process. Once those are complete the ball should get rolling...we cannot wait. I've been busy picking out flooring, trying to figure out bathroom vanities and wrapping my mind around the layout of the master bath (that I just recently changed!). For the most part I love this stuff, but there are so many details to consider so it feels like a lot of decision making (and you just hope you're making the right ones!). Its surreal to me that this is actually happening, I'm not quite sure I really believe it yet. All in all we're doing well over here, just soaking up our days with Adam before he leaves for 2 weeks (insert crying face!). B and I have made a list of things to do while daddy's gone and with grandma coming, I think we'll make it! Thanks for checking in, sorry for a quiet blog, not too much to report, just a lazy summer! xo

June 20, 2016

where your treasure is

"Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matt. 6:21). This scripture is really/especially fitting for me these days. People tend to look at you like you're crazy when you trade in southern California for central Texas, but what keeps coming to my mind is that verse, my treasure is here and so, my heart is here as well. I've heard it said that you'll never regret investing in people, and I'd like to think that's how I've spent my life thus far, investing in others. When people ask me what it is I love about Waco, TX, I typically say "everything but the heat and the bugs, but the people make up for both of those things," and its true. This past week I've been asked numerous times how it feels to be "back" and I find myself repeatedly saying: "It just feels right, and so so good." For the past 2 years I haven't felt "right" and its so nice (understatement) to feel "right" again. Things that hung over me like a dark cloud have been largely removed, distance has given me some new perspective and some new peace and I'm so thankful for both. I love that after 16 years of marriage (this Friday!) Adam and I finally are home and we know (unless something crazy happens) where we are going to raise our daughter and where we are going to live...for good. It feels amazing to be here and to finally be home.

We hit the ground running, moving is always hard and exhausting and in Texas heat, its no joke. Our rental has proven to be...a rental. Sigh. We've had maintenance out here numerous times already dealing with shower issues, stove issues, etc. We're already counting the days until our house is built (which, I'm not even sure if I've mentioned that here...but we're building a house!). Its going to be a long 8-9 months I think but we're all hopeful it will be worth it! :) All my ideas make so much sense in my head....here's hoping they turn out great in real life!! (insert cringy emoji face!).

When we arrived to our rental my friend had tied balloons to our mailbox, it was such a neat thing to come home to and made me instantly thankful for the community we were walking back into. The next day a friend brought lunch, then our friends had us over for dinner, then the next night someone else had us for dinner, then someone called and asked if they could bring us dinner, etc.. Its been so good to hug our friends and to walk into church on Sunday morning like we never left. I went to get B from Sunday school yesterday and my friend (who is the children's pastor) said "Oh, she left a while ago with her friends, she's not here" and I just smiled because, that's as it should be. B knows that church like the back of her hand, I don't need to "get her" she's home now.

This week Adam is in Florida with friends so its just me and B, I think we'll be doing a lot of pool mooching and hanging out with friends, just as summer should be. :) Thanks to all of you who have checked in on us, we're alive and well its just been a nutty week! B had volleyball camp, I shot a wedding on Saturday (and I'm just going to throw this out there, moving halfway across the country and shooting a wedding in the same week...eeeeek!!), Adam has been trying to get his office set up and taking many trips to/from our storage unit, etc.. We're all well, just tired. :) Get ready for lots of house posts...this should be fun!! xo

May 31, 2016

crunch time

T-1 week and 1 day until we make the big move back to Waco. It's that time that I hate in every move, where life becomes inconvenient because most things are packed, you are eating on paper plates and eating not-great food because most of your cooking stuff is packed, the house looks sad because things are coming off the walls and it becomes the empty shell you walked into nearly 2 years ago. Brennan has 2.5 days left of school and I'm not sure whose more excited, me or her? I am SO OVER the long trek to her school each day, and since I don't feel like I was ever really here this go around I'm admittedly detached from her school and just want to go home. I've said to Adam on more than one occasion that I think this will be the most anti-climactic move we've ever made, I really think we'll get into the moving van/car and just drive off with little emotion over actually leaving. These past 22 months haven't felt like real life to me, I've admittedly lived with one foot out the door since we got here and I think when we get back to Waco it will take about 2 seconds before it feels like we never left and this will all be a distant memory...and truth be told, I can't wait for that. I don't want to be insensitive to our dear friends who have made these past 22 months actually doable, and of course we will miss them terribly, but they have known from day one we haven't been "home" and they are eager for us to get back to it as well.

This past week Adam was out of town, then a friend from Waco came into town for a night, then cousin Mike flew in Friday morning and was here until yesterday morning. We had a fun weekend with him but poor B got sick so that put a damper on some things. Its been kinda nutty around here, but in a good way. :) We've got back to back to back dinners this next week saying goodbye to sweet friends, that's always bittersweet. I can't believe after all the waiting that this past year has entailed that we're here, we're finally HERE. The older I get I find I keep saying things like "life is so weird" to Adam, and he agrees. I think when you inch up on 40 something changes in you, you become more introspective and you start to realize how quickly life goes, how fast kids grow up, how you feel like you're still in your 20s so how can 40 be so near? Its a funny/weird phase of life for me, I've been thinking a lot about what I want for my daughter and for our little family, what lessons I want to teach her and what I hope she doesn't have to figure out the hard way. I've had some weird health stuff and have had numerous drs appointments and its reminded me how fragile life is and has kept me in check with the person I want to be and what I think is really important. I've read lots of books the past 2 years, probably more than ever in my life and I've feel like I've learned new things and gained new insights into this crazy life. I've been intentional about spending a lot of time with people who are wiser than me and have let them pour into me and teach me and its been so life-giving/rewarding. I've kept my mouth shut when I didn't want to and have learned valuable lessons in doing so. I've spoken truth into other peoples lives and have seen it yield some good things and some hard things. I've learned over and over again that good things comes from hard things and that hard things are less hard when you surrender them to Jesus and wait on his timing (have I mentioned I hate waiting?). I won't be sad to say goodbye to this "season" of life if you will, but I am thankful for all I've learned, I'm going to try to remind myself of that truth over and over and over. xo

May 26, 2016

betrayal

I've been thinking a lot about betrayal lately, its something that I've had thrown at me a lot in the past year and a half in various ways for different reasons, but ultimately 1 reason that has manifested itself in different ways at different times. I've been thinking a lot about it for several reasons but the main one being, I keep trying to figure out what Jesus would do with certain circumstances I've been given? You see, when things aren't black and white it leaves a lot up to interpretation and that can lead to actions where one can have a hard time trying to decipher what the "right" thing to do is. I've talked about this before, I've been wresting with it for a while so its making another appearance on this here blog. I was talking to someone recently and I said, I wonder what Jesus would say was the hardest part about the whole crucifixion experience? If we could sit down and have some face time with him and ask him to break it down, what would he say was the absolute worst part? The long walk carrying the cross while people yelled horrible things at him and spit in his face? The crown of thorns pressed violently into his head? The actual nails being driven into his wrists? The hanging with the weight of his body on those nails? The spear in his side? Or...was it the betrayal by those that claimed to love him the most? To have to endure watching the people that repeatedly told him they loved him look him in the eye and betray him like it was nothing? Please hear me here, I'm in NO WAY comparing my hurt to what Jesus experienced, but I have had some very painful physical pain in this life, and I've been betrayed and felt the sting of that and for me there's no question, the betrayal is by far the most painful...and lasting. You see, Jesus eventually was out of the physical pain, that was removed when it was finished, but the betrayal doesn't go away...he still has that pain to carry with him.

Today the news came out that Baylor's head football coach, Art Briles was fired due to an (alleged) cover up of sexual assault by some football players. I don't know all the ins and outs but I keep thinking about the girl(s) who were abused, and how the silence and (alleged) cover up of it all (by a Christian university no less) must have felt like such a betrayal of their experience and pain. And now, the truth is "out there" and natural consequences have taken place, and I can't help but think they must feel so vindicated, like their abuse wasn't nothing. Its SO HARD when a wrong has been done and people turn a blind eye for their own sake, they don't want to get their hands dirty. I have to believe this is not what Jesus had in mind when he called us to be peacemakers.

In college I majored in Christian Ministries with a minor in Theology and I had an emphasis in youth ministry. I took a class that required that I go hear Bart Campolo give a lecture at my school on youth ministry and it ended up being one of the most profound experiences I had in my 4 years at APU. For those of you who don't know who Bart is, he is (well, rather this is who he was when I was in college, he's changed his views a lot in recent years) an evangelist who lives and breaths urban youth ministry. He spends his days "in the ghetto" trying to reach broken kids with the good news of Jesus. When he's not doing that he's traveling the world speaking, trying to recruit urban youth workers to come work with at-risk youth. He's got a pretty amazing mission and is a very dynamic speaker with gripping stories. One of his stories has haunted me for years because of the reality of how messy life can be, and Jesus calls us into that mess and yet, he doesn't always give us the clear "right" answer for how to respond to certain situations. He explained how he had been working with a boy who came from a broken home, no dad, mom was working lots of jobs just to get by, he was often left unattended and was on a bad trajectory if something didn't change in his life. Bart had been pouring into this kid, trying to show him there was more to life and that was Jesus. This kid showed up at Bart's house one day and asked if he could live with him? Bart said this was a regular occurrence, kids would often come to him after trust was built when they felt they had nowhere to go and how it was a tricky thing to navigate b/c obviously he couldn't let all these kids come live with him and his family. So he pushed back on the kid and said "What do you mean your mom kicked you out?" After some back and forth the kid confessed that his mom wanted him to beat up a kid and he refused because "Bart said that Jesus said that you don't hurt people and that fighting isn't okay." So, because of his refusal to beat up this kid his mom kicked him out and he had nowhere to live. Bart pushed back some more and asked why his mom wanted him to beat up another kid?! After more back and forth the kid confessed "Because he's been raping my little brother." Bart went on to say how when in these situations, when life is this messy there's a problem, its true, Jesus says to love and not fight back but rather, to turn the other cheek. Bart went on to say, "in the ghetto you're often not dealing with good and bad, you're dealing with bad and worse." "So I looked him in the eye and I said, you go beat up that kid, you beat him so hard so he never touches your brother again." Bart went on to say when that kid walked away he felt so yucky, so gross, that he was covered in mess and he didn't want that on him, he cried out to the Lord and begged for his forgiveness but he didn't know what else to do, there was nothing "right" about any of this!!!!" He goes on to say how life is messy, doing life with urban youth is really messy, and Jesus calls us into the mess without all the answers but you go anyway, because that is what Jesus would do, and he too would get the mess all over him.

Life isn't black and white, there's a lot of gray, even/especially in the Christian life, but when a wrong has been done and people don't want to make a move because they want to keep their hands clean, people get hurt. Life is messy, but Jesus calls us into the mess, sitting on the sidelines isn't an option. xo

May 17, 2016

my friend's gratitude dinner

This weekend was a lot of eating and spending time with good friends. Adam and I went to a nice dinner on Friday with a long time friend of mine and her boyfriend, for one final "ho-rah" before we leave. Saturday we went to a joint birthday party for 2 of our long time friends who turned 40, that was really fun and we ate lots of good food and got lots of hugs from their parents who've treated us like family over the years, good stuff. We couldn't get a sitter 3 nights in a row so Sunday I went solo to a gratitude dinner that my friend threw for herself and it was so great. When we moved here almost 2 years ago we rented a house that just happened to be across the street from friends of ours and we didn't even know it! I don't think it was a coincidence that we were neighbors for that month as it ended up to be a really hard year for my friend and through that rental we got back in touch with one another. My friend and her husband are in the midst of a divorce and anyone who has gone through a divorce themselves or has walked with someone going through a divorce knows, its a lot, and its hard. I've watched my friend have good days and bad days, I've gone with her into her new apartment after having to sell her beautiful home, I've sat in her backyard as we've talked about how hard life can be, I've sorted through her belongings to help with those hard decisions of what to keep/get rid of when it feels like you're loosing so much already. Through it all she's had an unwavering faith that has been really amazing and encouraging to witness. On Sunday night she gathered those nearest and dearest to her and treated everyone to an amazing dinner at a local restaurant and talked about how thankful she is for the role that each of us has played in her life. Her dad got up to say a speech and to remind his daughter of the truth of God's word, it was really life-giving. He was saying how when we wait on the Lord, He will renew our strength, we will run and not grow weary, walk and not faint. His depiction of the famous Isaiah 40 passage was really poignant for me and it filled me with hope and truth and reminded me of what I know but never tire of hearing. Waiting has been a theme for me a lot in my life, most particularly these past 2 years and my eyes filled with tears as I was reminded that those who hope and wait on the Lord will be renewed. What a timely reminder for me, and more importantly for my friend.  Sunday night was one of those experiences that make up the good stuff of life, and I was so thankful to be there. I wish I could take away my friend's pain, but I love that in the midst of it she is celebrating God's faithfulness and acknowledging his goodness in the pain. It was an honor to be invited, it has been an honor to be on this journey with her, and I don't think the Lord providing a rental house across the street from her was just an accident because that's how God works, He's in the details of our lives even when we don't know it....yet. xo

May 10, 2016