Friday, May 7, 2010

I've Moved

Hey friends i have moved over to Word Press. Come check me out there and follow me!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Every Person has a story

Last night I went out with a group of friends to one of my favorite local spots. We sat and talked and enjoyed each other for a few hours. The question was raised, "take a look around the room, what do you see when you look at the people? What do you think they are here for?" I scanned the room and noticed everyone but one person was there with someone and that one person, she looked sad.

As I looked around the room I was once again struck by the fact that every person has a story. EVERY person has both a story being lived as well as a story to tell. Not one of us is simply made up of a random set of disconnect events not worth being told.

There are stories behind every register, found in every waiter or waitress, being lived by the person in the car next to or behind or in front of us in our cars. There are stories being told by the people we love, the people we struggle to like and the people we don't know. There is not a person on earth who does not have or live a story.

Each story is filled with events that cause actions or reactions. The way that each of us participate in conversation or groups, our ability to connect or not connect intimately with people is partly a result of the story we've lived up to that point. Each person's story affects the way each person lives.

As I desire to get to know people and walk with them in life I have learned that not everyone knows how to tell their story and not everyone is living the story they wish they were living. It amazes me how many of us wished we had the story of so and so, judging that person's story only by the outside by how we feel on the inside. We see the cover of someone else's story and we say, "Oh! that's the story I want!!!" and go out never reading the pages of the book to tell us of the difficulty, challenges, moments of beauty and moments of pain from which the book cover came.

I've also learned that we like to ask questions that only tell the timeline of the story. What I did yesterday. What I will do this weekend. How I will spend my summer. We struggle to ask the questions that give the meat of the story. What was the highlight of your day yesterday? What made it so. What are you thinking about these days? What are you passionate about? What do you dream of? Where is there struggle in your story? Where is there cause to celebrate? These questions open up the story of person to telling us a story of how past and present collide in today, revealing the heart of a person.

Learning each other's stories is crucial as we build into one another. I'd say even as we have a desire for others to know Jesus. If Jesus is woven into the fabric of my story, He will be seen and heard of as I share my story with others. It is a natural part of conversation. If I want someone to know why I'm in a bad mood rather than simply just to be affected by my bad mood, then I get to share my story with them. It might alter relationships in the process.
Telling my story and asking others to tell me theirs opens up doors to relationships that have truly enriched my life. You'll find many of these stories written in my blog.

What is your story?

This week take a chance and see how many stories you can hear. For one week, see each person as a story teller and ask him/her questions to get their story out. Let's say you go to the grocery store, you have a person in front of you with a name tag. Use the name on the tag and ask him/her a question like, "What is the best thing that has happened to you today?" You can try this out with bank tellers, waitresses, co-workers, neighbors. Just start asking questions and see what happens.

I'd love to hear what the result is as you begin to hear the stories of others. Leave a comment below that shares how it all worked out, so we can learn from your story!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The 11:29 Project FAQ

It has been nearly 3 full years since the dream of the 11:29 Project came to life. For those who have asked what exactly is this project, here is a brief description. If you'd like to know more. Feel free to email me or find me on facebook and I'll send you all kinds of fun information! Enjoy

What is the vision and mission of The 11:29 Project?

The 11:29 Project was formed by Cari Jenkins out of a desire to see individuals and groups find true rest in Jesus. By true rest, we don't just mean that people will no longer be tired, but that people will be set free to walk in the way of Jesus, allowing all of who they are to rest in all of who HE is. True rest changes lives. Our mission statement is: The 11:29 Project is a ministry of availability and encouragement that creates spaces of rest and restoration for individuals and advocates for the marginalized globally.

The name of the 11:29 Project comes from Matthew 11:29: "take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." The Message paraphrase says it like this: "Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me-watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly."

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

What you follow forms you...

Have you ever noticed the things you follow are the things that form you?

I started running in November. This is a big feat for someone who is 35 and the last time I ran was, well, the mile in the 8th grade. When I decided I wanted to pick up this new hobby, I knew I needed to learn from someone on how to train well. There is a lot of information out there on the BEST training programs out there! I'm amazed that there are so many secrets to a successful training program.

I decided to pick a program to follow that met me right where I was and could guide me to what could be. So I began running. I started out running in 30 second increments and now am up to a five minute run/1 minute walk pattern for up to 20 miles! Fairly amazing.

In life we become formed by what we follow. I've become formed by the program I followed. It came with a certain methodology that I've not only applied to running, but to many other areas of life. I've been formed by a marathon training program.

Sometimes we are formed by the people we follow, the books we read, the genres in which we pour into. Have you noticed that you can pick out the guy who follows Fox news fairly easily from the guy who follows NPR? Have you noticed you can pick out the girl who spends her time reading Cosmo from the girl who reads National Geographic?

It is important to pay attention to the things we follow.

Jesus, understood that by following people would become. So when he invited people into his way he'd ask them to follow. One of the first places we read this in Mark takes place in Mark 1:16-20

16As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 17"Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will make you fishers of men." 18At once they left their nets and followed him.

19When he had gone a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John in a boat, preparing their nets.20Without delay he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men and followed him.

It is such a different invitation. It seems a bit backwards. It wasn't necessarily a call to believe, although that invitation was given in verse 15. It was an invitation to follow.

What a difference in perspective. The onus of being made into something new is on Jesus as we follow after Him. It is not on us! We become representative of that which we follow.

What are you following?

What does your life communicate about what or whom you follow?

As you seek to follow Jesus what do you find yourself being made into? Do you look more like the one you follow?

Monday, May 3, 2010

A story worth telling

Some friends of mine are amazing story tellers. They use a camera, a video camera and lots of storyboarding to tell the stories of children from around the world. They advocate for children by telling their stories.

When the earthquake shook Haiti and buildings came crashing down and lives were taken. It was a horrific event. This group was there as quickly as possible. They had been to Haiti before shooting some footage for an orphanage called The Lighthouse. After the earthquake they were flown in to continue the story. They were joined by CNN new's correspondent Soledad O'Brien. It seems as though God wanted this story to be told.

They worked long hours and tirelessly filmed, interviewed and captured images all while the earth continued to shake, buildings continued to collapse and the entire country was in crisis.

This young film production company, Discover the Journey, has an amazing opportunity before them to tell the story of two young orphan children in Haiti, before and after the earthquake.
CNN will be showing the film on May 8th and 9th. If you are able to, turn your tv on and watch it! It will open your eyes to amazing things. Your heart to the stories of those around you and hopefully a life to respond in some way. As we each play a role today!

RESCUED: airs on CNN May 8th and 9th!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

The best treasure you can find

Today I was at the beach with some friends. The temperature was perfect. The sky blue. The waves crashing and the tide just coming in. It was in fact a perfect day.
Perez, my 7 year old friend and I went for a walk along the beach. We like to do this. We look for cool stuff and we tell stories. We step on kelp bubbles (or pods) and make them pop. We climb on rocks and read other people's messages written in the sand. I love it!
Today we were climbing on some rocks when I noticed some kids playing in a tide pool. So I said, "Perez look! Let's go see what they've found." There were about 6 or 7 kids in the water, several parents lining the water telling the kids to look under this rock or giving them hints on how to catch a crab without actually once touching a crab themselves.
Soon I noticed the crowed of kids gathered playing together. They all worked together. They all shared a similar goal. They were all making strategies and coming up with grand ideas of what they could do with all the crabs they catch. At one point I looked up and there were about 10 kids and not one was of the same nationality. They didn't even speak the same languages.

I loved watching them. I loved seeing them laugh and play. They didn't care that they were all different. In fact, i think wondered if they noticed. They simply were of the human race and they loved every moment of it.

I sat next to a woman and she and I started talking. The kids modeled we followed suit.
At the end of our time. I asked Perez, "so what was the best treasure you found today." "The crabs!" he answered. I asked again, "what else did you find that was even better than a crab?" "New Friends!" he answered. "Yes, Perez, that is the best treasure of today! What a good hunt! What a great find!" We walked a way and Perez wrote something in the sand. i looked down and he was writing a message to his new friends. It read, Love Perez to Aaron.

He said to me, "Cari can I go tell his mom something." "Of course you can Perez." With that he ran back to Aaron's mom. He ran back to me and we started walking back to meet up with his mom.

As we walked back we saw Aaron and his mom walking over to the place in the sand where Perez had written him a message. Aaron's mom read it to him and he yelled to Perez, "thank you my new friend Perez!"

Oh the lessons we can learn from children!

I hope that on your daily treasure hunt that you will know that the one of the best treasures you can find is a really good friend! And I hope that you feel free to tell them that they are special to you and that you can be unashamedly bold in doing so.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

18 miles, a new perspective and a need

Today I had to run 18 miles. It seems daunting. In fact in the first three miles I nearly started to cry at the thought of having to do 15 more.

When I started this journey, training for a marathon I knew that it would be challenging. I knew it was going to be a bit overwhelming. And yet at the very same time I knew that I was going to be able to finish.

My perspective this morning was shotty at best. I was doing whatever I could to talk myself into finishing. My friend Cristy just kept going. I was able to keep going because she was with me. I ended up running a mile past 18.

It is amazing what happens when we are with someone.
This is true in relationship too. We work so much better together. We grow up wanting to be an individual and independent. We do what ever we can to make it on our own and that fact is celebrated.

As women, we sometimes strive to be so independent cause the idea that we would need someone or something could potentially become needy. But the reality is neediness is good. We were created to need. We were created to be incomplete in some way. Think about it. In Romans 12 Paul talks about the fact that we are one body but many members and each member plays a different part. We don't have every part! We need each other!

So next time you are feeling the need to be independent or you think you should be capable of everything, remember that's not how we were created. (We were created to share, walk together and give and receive from each other.) Then call a friend and ask them to join you, maybe you too could run nearly 20 miles.

Friday, April 30, 2010

A Missional Fear

I remember the first time I heard the word Missional. It was new and shiny like a brand new car. I loved the message behind it, calling people back to mission; living out Church as the body of Jesus. As men and women of faith in Jesus we have a particular mission in the world and unfortunately much of the mission has been lost over the years. We've instead concerned ourselves with right thinking, great music, growing larger congregations of people who gather together in one room to worship God. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with any of the aforementioned things. But in the midst of pursuing these things we have often knelt to a lesser god.

Our focus slipped from that of the first followers of Jesus to something different.

It is out of that place where the idea of the missional church was born. A group of individuals came together wanting to call The Church back to her roots. To become a people of mission who believe we have a responsibility to love others with our words and deeds, to take our focus from being inward, to living outward. To take note that we have a role to play in the Kingdom of God today. To study the life of Jesus as our model and then jump into life with a passionate desire to follow in His way. Good thoughts indeed. Thoughts with which I very much agree.

I believe as men and women of faith in Jesus we need to be on a mission. A mission to Love God, Love others and Love our selves. This is the mission of Jesus and it is very active.

Then something happened. I noticed people saying things like, "That is an attractional church and we're a missional church," or "we are a traditional church and they are a missional something or other," sometimes you'd even hear people smugly saying, "I can't believe what this or that church is doing, they are so lost, they aren't a part of the missional church." The fact is, missional has become a brand and a dividing mark and often a litmus test for individuals to see if someone is a true follower of Jesus or is a part of the "right way" to do church.

I must admit as a result, I'm getting tired of the word missional. I also have fear that the term missional will lead people to believe that the things at the heart of missional thinking are actually a fad, rather than a way. There is a difference.

Throughout history the church has gone through many phases. In my lifetime the church in the US and other places has sought to redefine itself continually. It is as though we all know there is something broken and so when we figure out what it might take to fix it, we teach a seminar, coin a term, write a book and change the way we do things. As a result we have experienced a lot of experimental expressions of church. (again I do not believe any of this is wrong, but it can be misguided. When our desire to get people in the doors of our church out weighs the desire to see lives changed by Jesus, we've lost something)

I fear that the once shiny, brand new car word, is loosing a bit of its shine and that people are becoming less impressed by its message. I fear that as we seek to redefine church with a new vocabulary and theology we become more interested in missional ideas, than Jesus ideas. (These can be one in the same, but there are subtle twists that can make the focus about being "missional" rather than being a "Christ follower" to the hearer.)

I wonder what would happen if we took the labels off of movements and simply referenced Jesus. How are we to live? Look at Jesus. How are we to love? Look at Jesus. Who holds the truth for those who follow Him. Jesus.

I believe the message of the missional church is calling people to follow after the way of Jesus, reconnecting the church with her bridegroom and first love. I believe that the heart of the missional movement is good. I simply fear that it will become a brand or label and that in a few years something new and shiny will come along and people will leave this way to follow that way (whatever way that way is). I also fear that we are creating a new pharisaical system, a way to judge whether people and churches are using the right vocabulary to teach about Jesus, make disciples and label itself.

I wonder what would happen if we simply followed His way and didn't feel a need to brand it with anything other than His name, Jesus?

What do you think?
How do we keep the truths of a movement, without popularizing it to fad status?

Thursday, April 29, 2010

God is Good

A friend and I were once discussing the term, theophany. The word literally means a God sighting. We were wondering what exactly that looks like in the present day. It has been a while since bushes burned with God speaking through the flames.

We decided to see what we could find as we looked through Scripture to discover how we might have a God sighting today. My friend and I both happened upon James 1:17 "Every good and perfect gift comes from above, coming down from the Father of Lights..."
If every good thing is a gift from God and God is good, then when we take time to notice the good that takes place in our lives, we are seeing a glimpse of God.

So, my friend and I decided that we needed to train ourselves to see God in the midst of the every day by taking note of the good in our days. We made a plan. She and I each got a journal and we planned to write every good thing that took place in our day. We would then meet once a week and share our lists.

The first week our lists were short. Looking for good was actually a little more challenging than we thought. You see we were out of practice. Our eyes had not been trained to see good, in fact much of the world around us, spoke to what was wrong with the world rather than celebrating that which was good. We needed practice seeing. We needed practice looking for good.
With each week that passed our lists grew in length. Soon the pages could hardly hold the good we'd see. There is good everywhere when we look for it. A beautiful sunrise, a smile from a stranger, a great conversation, an amazing meal, a new connection and the list goes on and on.

The possibilities to find good grow as we look for it.

There is a spiritual discipline that I believe is under utilized today. It is the discipline of celebration. Celebration is taking time to notice God and celebrate His goodness. I needed to train myself to see Him and that took practice. As strange as it seems, I had to work at seeing good and discipline myself to actively pursue the visible expressions of God's goodness in my every day life.

My friend and I spent months making lists of the things we'd see, smell, taste, touch and hear that were good. And a discipline was formed and I saw the goodness of the Lord.

I use that list still to this day when I forget and need to be reminded of the goodness of God.

I'd love to hear your list this day of the ways you've experienced the goodness of God in your life. Write me about it. And we can all be encouraged as we read!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Doctrine that divides

Have you ever noticed that when you get with people of other denominational backgrounds or belief systems about how the Christian faith is to be expressed that tensions can rise rather quickly. You may believe that the creation of the world took place in 7 literal days and your brother/sister thinks that the creation story took place over thousands of years, each day represents a period of time rather than a 24 hour period of time, and as you talk tensions rise and the conversation becomes heated. Your friendship actually becomes tense and now it's more like you're distant cousins rather than brothers and sisters.

Have you noticed that with that same person you can have a conversation about Jesus, the broken state of our world and how Jesus is the answer for healing and hope and end up feeling connected and brought together rather than separated. There is an understanding of a mutual longing for others to know Jesus and there is hope placed in Him.
In John chapter 17 Jesus prays a prayer for all believers starting with verse 20: My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: 23I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

It makes my heart sad that there are so many things that divide us as brothers and sisters in the family of God. People allow a difference of opinion or various interpretations of Scripture to be things that divide them into segmented groups who use their various beliefs to make an us and them mentality.

Jesus was very concerned with right belief. He very much taught that He was/is the way, truth and life, He was/is the gate, He was/is our entry point to God the Father. His life represented the way to follow after and elevated love to a monumental level. Loving God, self and others was/is the heart of Jesus for the world and He desired/s the world to see that love represented by those who follow after Him. "I pray that they would be one."

I wonder what it would look like if you and I would live like Jesus and put Jesus as the center point. He would become the unifying point, rather than a belief on this or that, that divides.

I'm not saying that doctrine and theology isn't important. In fact I have strong beliefs that come out of my understanding of Scripture. But, when doctrine and theology trump relationship and people cast others aside because they don't look at things the same way, we cease to follow after the way of Jesus.

Jesus, met people where they were and walked with them to new places of belief and practice.

I have an intense desire to see those who follow after Jesus reunited, to be reminded of Jesus' desire for us to be one and put our belief in Him first. I believe that when we look at ourselves with sober judgement as Paul invites us to do in Romans 12 that we might be surprised what we could learn from those who see the practice of following Jesus with a different view.

Jesus is central. He is the answer and He is the model, the truth and the life. Dream with me for a little bit about loving a person through the eyes of Jesus, rather than through a doctrinal statement.

How would you interact differently with others who follow Jesus?
Do you have thoughts? What do you think Jesus' prayer for all believers in John 17 looks like today?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

What happens when stuck...

I would have to say at the moment I am stuck. I have been on a really good kick as I've been training and dramatically changing my lifestyle. This adventure started in September of last year and really took flight when i decided to run a marathon. My life up to that point had been filled with lots of, if only and when this happens statements... but now it is filled with, I can and and I will statements.

I've seen my eating habits challenged and changed. My sitting habits challenged and changed. My walking habits challenged and changed. I have a want and that want is to be prepared for whatever lies ahead and part of that preparation lies in being as healthy physically as possible.
It is a challenge to make wise choices regularly. It is a challenge when new habits have been formed and they feel comfortable and regular, then I have a day where I give in to living in the old rather than the new.

I have seen such dramatic changes in my life over the past months. I have not only experienced body changes, habit changes, thought changes, I've also seen my views of certain things morph and change. (this I will write about at a later time.) But this past weekend and if I'm honest the last couple of weeks I have felt very challenged in my process. I have not wanted to make wise choices. I've wanted to eat foods that are not healthy and I've not wanted to exercise. I have continued to choose to be active as I have a goal I'm working towards, but I have felt motivationally stuck.

I think we all have moments where our motivation is lacking. In college one might be unmotivated to finish a paper, or perhaps one is trying to quit smoking, gossiping, swearing, spending or some other goal. When working towards a goal there are sweet days and then there are sweat days. I have been in the sweet days and currently I find myself in the sweat days.
The sweat days are the days where it all feels like work. But how do I choose to keep pressing on, when my desire is at about 0% and I'm just feeling stuck?

I've learned a few things are important when I'm feeling stuck. I thought I'd just share my list with you.
1. Remind myself of the goal
2. Tell people I'm stuck instead of being ashamed and fearful
3. Remind myself that I will not be stuck forever
4. Give myself grace
5. Take it one moment at a time
6. Don't calculate all my wrong choices, painting such a bleak picture that I can't dream myself out
7. Ask Jesus for help. Ask him to give me his perseverance and endurance
8. Ask friends to pray for me that I will grow in my endurance and that I'll make wise choices
9. Have a start over/clean slate day. (This I've decided is tomorrow.) I'm going to act as though I'm just getting started and live and learn as though I'm just at the beginning instead of the middle, with hopes that my perspective might change from drudgery to excitement.
10. Give myself a new goal to work towards. Basically I have the goal to run a marathon, but I've added the goal of doing a sprint triathlon. This will give me something new to think about while training. So even though it seems like I'm just adding on to my list, I'm actually keeping things fresh and the goals work together.
11. Don't go at it alone!
12. Find my cheerleaders
13. Say I need help
14. Keep moving forward one step at a time

This list can translate to any goal or change one is on the journey of reaching. It is part of life as we face the challenge before us. It is part of our walk with Jesus as we seek to abide in Him and live in our new self. Paul talks about this struggle in Romans 7, "that which I want to do I do not do, but that which I do not want to do, I find myself doing." There is a struggle to living into the new self in Jesus. This struggle manifests itself when ever we are seeking to make a positive life change that will honor him. It is in persevering through the struggle that we grow, change, and become.

So as I'm feeling stuck in my process, these are the things I do and think to get unstuck.

What do you do?

Monday, April 26, 2010

Because He Wants to...

A few weeks ago a friend was telling me a story. Her son is three and he is in the question phase. His favorite question, why? She'd say, "son, eat your broccoli please," "why?" he'd ask. "Son, go wash your hands," "why?" This pattern continued and still continues.

One day she said, "Son, I love you!" "Why?" he responded. She had a choice. How would she respond? Why did she love her son? She decided that she would describe all of the reasons why she loved him. He would give her a hug and she'd say, "You are such a good hugger, that is why I love you," or she'd say, "You are the best big brother, that is why I love you." For a few weeks she would continue to give him reason after reason why she loved him. The list long and continued to grow. Then one day, he says, "mom, I love you." She had her moment. She looked at her son and asked, "Why do you love me?" He paused. Looked up with a big smile and responded. "That's easy mama, I love you cause I want to!"

Amazing! The wisdom of a three year old. His words were so powerful. She was humbled by his wisdom and his gift to her as he spoke of simply loving his mom because he wants to.

A few days later, her son was singing Jesus Loves Me. He stopped and looked up at his mom and asked, "mom, why does Jesus love me?" My friend stopped and began to formulate her thoughts. She wanted to answer with wisdom and thoughtfulness. Before she could say a word he looked up and said, "I know why Jesus loves me mama. Jesus loves me cause he wants to!" He smiled and kept going about his day. His mom, left in the wake of such wisdom.

It is amazing to me how easy it is for us to make lists of the reasons why we are lovable. "I'm lovable because I am a good friend, I'm easy to hug, I'm nice, I can do this, I can think this, I can be this or that..." The list goes on and as we age, often our list grows and with it a fear that if this list were to change maybe our ability to be loved would also change.

My friend's son spoke a word that we all need to hear. We are simply loved by Jesus, just cause He wants to and nothing else. There is nothing we can do to make him love us any more or any less than he does right now.

So today, when you're tempted to think your value or lovability rises and falls on a long list of capabilities or reasons that we control, remember the words of my friend's son, "Jesus loves me just cause He wants to."

Sunday, April 25, 2010

On Running

Today I hit a wall. It was a new kind of wall. I've been running weekly since December and it is amazing to me that I still feel as though I'm just a new kid on the block. I've run up to 16 miles at one time and I find myself wanting to quit today. I only had to run 8 miles but it felt like I was going to die half way through. Thank goodness for my friend Kristen who ran with me. 
I think I've hit the hard stage of training. The marathon is on June 6 and all I see in front of me are the 18 miles, 20 miles, and 26 mile runs. Up to this point, running has been exciting, something new, I've full of this amazing feeling of gratitude and accomplishment and now dread has set in. 

Perseverance is challenging. I think it comes in at different levels. I can persevere through a 14 mile run, but 18 is asking too much of me. I've hit the point of perseverance where I really have to depend on God. My ability to persevere with human strength has ended. 

Even as I type I wonder how I'm going to make it through the next month. I wonder what it will be like to finish the race. I wonder what training has done for me and how different it is from trying. If I had just decided to try to run a marathon, I wouldn't even have started the process of preparation. But, instead I've decided to train and the training is hard. I'm tired, I'm sore, I'm battling all the voices in my mind that tell me I can't and I look to Jesus, friends, and stories to give me the encouragement I need to keep pressing forward. 

Training is hard.

Have you ever trained for something and wanted to give up?
Have you ever tried something and thought you could just do it without training? 
Have you ever had to persevere to reach a goal?
I'd love to hear your stories. It would encourage me and I think others, as we train not just for the physical challenges in life, but in all areas.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Birds and Windows

This morning I woke up to a bird flying continuously into my bedroom window. He would fly beak first and hit the window. He would then take another stab at it and do the same thing over and over again. This process kept going for an hour!

I remember the first time this happened. I thought the birds had gone mad. I was living on a hill in a wooded area, when I woke up to two or three birds flying directly into my window.
I did a little research, cause I thought this strange and sure enough, this happens each year around this time. The bird eats a particular nut that gets stuck in its beak and he has to break it out, so he flies into stuff.

I happened to live in a home with a huge window so over and over this silly bird would fly head first into the window. I thought for sure he was a goner, or high, or something.

Birds flying into windows almost always make me think of spiritual things. Okay, not really but this one did this morning. Most of the time, birds flying into windows simply makes me laugh or annoyed. This morning however, the bird flying head on into my bedroom window continuously for an hour and a half, starting at 6 a.m. didn't make me laugh, it made me annoyed and puzzled and then made me think of spiritual things.

In our lives as people who follow after the way of Jesus I am quite certain there are practices we have that make us look as crazy as the bird flying into my bedroom window. Things like, forgiveness, loving our enemies, praying, listening to God, reconciliation and many more can look just as a crazy to a watching world. But just like me with the bird, I realized that the bird was just being creative to get a job done that needed to be done.
(as i type, bird flies into my window again... oh it's now been about 15 times!)

So anyway...

As we follow Jesus sometimes we look as crazy as this bird does right now. But to us and to this bird, our crazy makes perfect sense and is actually good. Sometimes we have to do what looks crazy to follow well. Paul talks about foolishness and wisdom. He says the wisdom of man is foolishness to God. It is also said of the cross that even the cross is foolish to those who do not believe. I know that there are times where I've felt crazy for following after what I believed was the wisdom of Jesus.

[Now this is not to say that some birds flying into windows really are foolish and some people who say they follow Jesus really are fools. that is something to write for another time.]
But there are times where being foolish in the eyes of the world is just where we need to be.

What does it look like in your life to follow after Jesus even when it makes you look like a fool?
I'd love to hear your thoughts on wisdom and foolishness.

Friday, April 23, 2010


Have you ever had a conversation with someone and thought you were having one conversation to find out later the person with whom you were talking, although in the same room, with the same words said and heard had a completely different conversation? It's like someone says, "I like you," and the person hears I like you, you're a good buddy and they respond with, "of course I like you too." Gives the other person a soft punch on the shoulder and walks away.
One person was declaring their feelings towards someone and the other received it as a statement of the obvious, friends like each other. One person walks away totally hurt and destroyed, the other walks away thinking, what a great friend I have, how lucky am I.

I was just in a conversation with a friend who is struggling with communication in a relationship that he's in. He says one thing, the other person responds, there maybe one exchange of words, but there are two different conversations.

I dated a guy for a while a few years back. He and I make a commitment to be honest with each other and to tell the truth. He had a friend coach him on how to approach different conversations with me. I remember this one night he called and said we needed to have a conversation. Of course I was already jumping to conclusions in my mind as to what we needed to talk about. The first words out of his mouth were, "Cari, I first need you to know that I am not planning on breaking up with you in this conversation." Immediately the stress left and we were able to have the conversation... and actually just have one conversation.

It is amazing what perspective can do to a conversation. He set the table for me to hear what I needed to hear. We often hear things with a filter. We hear things through insecurity, fear, pride, love, care, concern, self-pity, and the list goes on. When our filter is shame, we do not hear observations, we hear value judgments. When our filter is care, we hear with an intent to express such care. Sometimes our filters hear more than what is actually being said, and assumptions, good or bad are made.

I have a friend who when I tell a story of personal struggle, this friend immediately feels guilty because they believe it is their responsibility to get me out of the struggle and already believe that they are failing. So I share a struggle just to share a struggle and this friend walks away hurt, because they are not enough for me. Once the above friend and I talked about it, we were able to engage conversations differently

Perspective AMAZES me.

When I think of how Jesus interacted with people, I wonder how people perceived Him through their various perspectives.

Can you think of an interaction with Jesus where perspective played a role?
Have you had a conversation or encounter with a person where perspective got in the way of listening?
Tell me about it....


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Inside Out

I was speaking with a friend recently who made the comment that she had made a change to her physical appearance with hopes that it would make her feel something different on the inside. I know she isn't alone in that. For years I thought if I could just look this way, or if I lost that weight or had this or that, I would be able to have filled the loneliness in my heart or make the pain I felt go away.

I live in San Diego where there are more fake boobs, gyms, and plastic surgeons than any place ever really needs. People here are consumed by appearance. In a recent visit from a friend, he noted, "People are just prettier here." I agree, people are very pretty in San Diego. (must be why God moved me here) But I have to say, in the society of a city who seeks physical perfection, I must admit there is something missing. On weekends when everyone is all dolled up to play, my heart breaks as I see the loneliness and desires to be chosen displayed in clothing choices. I see various body shapes trying to play the role of the pretty girl so that she's noticed. I actually smell the guys in my elevator as they make a statement in their own way. Some might see beauty. I see people wanting to be chosen and going about it the only way they know how.

My response to my friend when she told me what she learned from seeking inner change from making an outward change was something to the effect of, "it's amazing how we seek to change the outside to make ourselves feel something new on the inside, when really our outside is the one thing that really gives away what's going on on the inside."

I said this because I have been experiencing a fairly major outward change as of late. I have lost a bunch of weight and continue to do so. This has happened not in an effort to feel something new (which is what I've done many times before) but to reflect something new that's already been done.

We use our outsides to mask, to tell as story of who we want to be, to invite response, to represent who we really are. Our outsides tell a story. Sometimes we make our outsides up to look a certain way to almost be a catalyst for feeling a certain way. I know when I am having a really crappy day sometimes all I have to do is shower and start over. It is in starting over that I am able to gear up and reframe, but the change is internal in reframing, the external expresses that change.

Our outsides tell the story of our insides. What do you think? Do you agree? Share your thoughts.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

15 lessons

While training for this marathon I'm running I've learned a few things are very important:

1. Sleep
2. Being dedicated to the process
3. Having cheerleaders
4. Telling my stories of running
5. Eating the right foods
6. Not eating the right foods
7. Eating enough food
8. Stretching
9. Consistency
10. Present moment thinking (if I think of how much I've yet to do, FREAK OUT! but in the moment I can just keep going)
11. Ice
12. Listen to my body
13. Consume calories while I'm working out
14. Epson Salt after a run
15. Don't over do it

These are all new lessons for me as I've not been a runner before.
What are the lessons you've learned that would be helpful for me as I prepare to run? Advice? tips?

I think, as in most life lessons, we can also learn a spiritual parallel. Just as there are many lessons learned to be able to run the race and finish well, there are many lessons to be learned to run our spiritual race and finish well. Here are a few of the things I've learned are important a long the way in my spiritual race.

1. It is a process
2. Don't go at it alone.
3. I need cheerleaders
4. I need to tell my story
5. Ask questions
6. Take time to reflect
7. Study the model (Jesus)
8. Spend time with the model
9. Seek to put into practice as I'm going, not when I have it figured out
10. Own my weaknesses
11. Give away myself often
12. Receive
13. Listen
14. Stay in the now
15. Place hope only in the one sure thing, Jesus... all else will lead to disappointing end.

What are lessons you've learned in your own spiritual race preparation?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Today some friends from Arizona stopped by to say hi and to encourage me. We talked about what I've been up to, what I've been thinking, how we've each seen Jesus at work, things we're learning and... and... and

I felt like Barnabus was sitting in my living room, there only to encourage and remind me of who I am in Jesus. It was an incredibly encouraging time for me. We spoke of the importance of friendship and how it is a commitment and a serious one.

Friendships are incredibly valuable and all too often under-appreciated. We often take them for granted. We are willing to have fun with a person, but the moment the conversation turns to something real, silence occurs, or people become uncomfortable. True friendship involves risk. But risk, is simply a part of loving.

One of the men who stopped by today I'd only met one other time. He paused and said, "I have a question for ya." I waited, he asked. "Cari, what are your weaknesses?" I responded quickly, because I wanted to be known and I was safe in the context of these people. There was an investment being made in me that made it abundantly easy for me to share. When I know that a person is investing in me and I in them, it makes it easier to speak of the uncomfortable.

Jesus not only modeled for us the value of friendship as he chose to walk with a band of brothers. These men committed to life together for nearly 3 years. And the friendships made during that season lasted and spurred them on to love and good deeds.

Jesus modeled the importance of speaking the truth, spending time pouring into, investing in, and growing in relationship with others. It was not always easy, it wasn't always fun, it didn't have immediate pleasurable results, but lives were changed. People were committed. And each of this particular band of brothers lived into a better story.

Take a moment to think about your friends. Are they people who stimulate you to love and good deeds? Are they people with whom you want to gather for encouragement? Are they people who will tell you the truth and also give you the freedom to discover the truth about yourself? Are they people with whom you want to journey through much of life's ups and downs?

Do you have people in your life who invest in you with the level of commitment made in the taking of a vow or making of a covenant?

Maybe it's time to take a friendship you currently have and breathe commitment and intimacy into it.

What are your thoughts?
What have you learned about friendship?
Who has modeled friendship well in your life?
I'd love to hear.

Monday, April 19, 2010

A Beautiful Mind

Have you ever seen the movie "A Beautiful Mind"? It is the story of math genius John Nash, who overcomes years of suffering through schizophrenia to win a Nobel Prize. It is a powerful story that I've come to love even more over the years since first watching the film.

The story really is about a man who believes a lie. This lie comes in the form of three persons who do not exist, but he believes do exist. He has conversations with them, they tell him their thoughts on his life's choices and give unsolicited feedback on various circumstances in his life. They, these three persons, visit him for years and years. And he very much believes in them. In many ways, they shape him.

John meets a woman and falls in love and the two end up getting married. Through his relationship with her, John begins to fight his schizophrenia and his wife seeks to be a voice of truth against the barrage of lies he believes.

She has to fight fiercely for the truth for her husband. In one particular scene she is standing on the stairs and he is at the bottom, next to one of the characters in his mind. He yells, "she's right here, she is real!" His wife responds, "Look at me, trust me, she isn't there, no one is there!" "but she's standing right next to me?" "John, look at me! believe me! She is not real!" John looks down again at the girl next to him and realizes for the first time that she has never changed her clothes and has never aged. He realizes in that instance that this girl is a lie. He realizes it, because he chose to listen to the voice of the one who loves him. A voice he trusts.

I don't know about you, but I have at times felt like John Nash. No I don't have schizophrenia in any form, nor do I pretend to know what that is like, but I do know what it is like to take hold of a lie as though it were the truth. I think we can each think of a list of things we've chosen to believe about God, self or others that simply isn't true. God is holding out on me. I wasn't made beautifully and wonderfully. And everyone else is threat in some way, because they could get what I want before I do.

These lies and so many others are formed deep within and we begin to build our lives around them as though they are truth. So instead of wrapping our lives around the truth of Jesus and who are to Him. We allow ourselves to be tangled by a web of lies that binds rather than frees.
We live into the lies as though they are our personal truth.

I've battled a certain set of lies for a long time. Most had to do with the question of where does my worth or value come from or the question of what will cause love to be taken away from me. I built entire systems to avoid loosing worth or having love taken away.

Just like John Nash, I was entangled by a web of lies that kept me from living. And just like John Nash, I too had to listen to the voice of one who loved me to see that I was not living in truth. Jesus says, "the truth will set you free." I believe that with all of my heart. The truth does lead toward personal freedom.

I had to address a long set of lies and had people help in the process. Ultimately it came down to me choosing to believe that Jesus speaks the truth and anything contrary to His words does not hold truth. I had a rubric for discerning what was a lie and what was truth. Anything that seeks to kill, steal or destroy in both the long term, more than likely not true. Those things that lead toward life in both the short and long term, true.

John Nash fought fervently the battle for his mind, his wife fought with bravery as well and he overcame, to win a Nobel Prize. But the movie paints the reality of the situation. John Nash was not freed from the temptation to believe the lie, he just simply knew he needed to look for the truth. At the end of the film, he was leaving Princeton where he had received his award. As he walked across the courtyard John looks to the side and sees all three characters from his mind standing there. He sees them, looks ahead, looks back to them and keeps on walking as though to say, "you don't own me any more." The reality is the lie didn't leave, the lie just lost it's power.

A lot of times when we battle various beliefs in our own minds we believe that we will be set free from them and never struggle again. This itself is a lie. It is deceiving, because it leads one to place their hope in freedom from struggle itself. The truth is, even when we've been given freedom from the power of a lie in our personal lives, the lie may present itself over and over again, because we live in a fallen world. Much of our very culture is formed on a lie. And just like John Nash, we will face the lie before us with a choice. How will I respond? Will I choose to believe the lie offered and give it power over me or will I choose to walk away and take hold of the truth and freedom found in Jesus.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Again with the process

Today I have to run 16 miles. The thought is daunting and to be honest I'm not very happy about it.
Training isn't always pretty or sexy or wonderful. There is no present day reward for training. In fact before facebook, twitter and blogs no one would even know that my training was taking place.
I think that is why people like races. At races you get fans, you get a prize. In training you just get ready.
So today my hope is to find joy in the process and look forward with anticipation to the product.

Saturday, April 17, 2010


What is it that I want?
That is a question that has been burning in my mind for some time. If someone were to look at my life and answer the question for me, how would they answer?
I've always had a difficult time with focus. I have a gazillion interests. I am a person of vision. I love to do just about anything and I'm not afraid of much. This poses a problem when deciding on a path for life.
A few years back a friend put a piece of paper in front of me and said, "okay Cari, these are the things I've heard you say you are doing, you want to do or you believe you will do one day. Now you have one minute. Pick one!" I froze. i actually panicked a little. I ended up crying with him. "I can't pick! they are all too important!"
I remember when I was a kid my sisters and I would play make believe. Connie would almost always be a mom, Christy a teacher and me, well, my career changed just about every time. I was an interior decorator, a lawyer, a doctor, a teacher, a recording artist, my career changed almost every time we'd play." I have been a person of a million ideas since I popped out of the womb.
So as I've walked the last few years in a new way, I've wrested with the question of, "what is my life about? what do I do?" I actually get the opportunity to participate in many activities. I get to use multiple gift sets. And I love all that I do, but what exactly is the end result.
No matter what the task is before us daily on our to do list, we each get to ask our selves the question. What is it that we want out of life? What is it that we do to accomplish what we want out of life? This is a much larger question than how will I make money.
I have now asked two people what they believe it is that I want, they actually both said the same thing. I'm hoping to learn more about this as I continue to invite the wise in my life to speak into me.
What about you? What do you want? Here are a few ideas on how to get started answering that question for yourself:
1. Make a list of all the things you want in life, study it, is there a theme? Is there an idea that is common in them all?
2. Ask 5 of your closest friends to tell you what they think you want.
3. Spend some time with a wise person to talk about all your wants. let them ask you questions and listen to their input. See what they say at the end of the conversation. (Note: the conversation may be longer than a one time event.)
4. Talk with Jesus. See what comes to mind as you ask Him what you want.

Take a moment to write below what you want. Write what you think I want. And see what happens as you live towards getting what you want out of life.

Friday, April 16, 2010


Have you ever had that feeling in your gut right before something BIG happens. Maybe it's a first date or a 10th date with the same person. Maybe you were leaving for a trip you've had planned for a long time. Maybe you found out you were pregnant and you had months of anticipation before the big day arrived.

There is a deeply embedded sense that something good is coming and it's time to get prepared. I kinda think that anticipation and preparation often go hand in hand.

About what are the things you are feeling a sense of anticipation today?

What are you doing to get prepared?

I wonder what would happen if you and I lived with a sense of anticipation daily about one day seeing Jesus again? Would we find ourselves living any differently? How would we prepare?

Today I am feeling a sense of anticipation about the next two days. As I prepare I choose to entrust my life to God's authorship and find myself grateful for whatever comes.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

To Be Lived

Every day I have the opportunity to make a choice. Am I going to read about good stories or am I going to live one? Jesus says in John 10:10 that, "the thief comes to steal, kill and destroy, but I have come that you might have life and have it to the full." We are daily invited to live a full life.
John 3:16 says, "God so loved the world that He gave His one and only son, so that whoever believes in him might not die but have (and I believe experience) eternal life." Jesus did not come to die so that we could live mediocre lives. He came to model a way, speak a truth and be the life. Like he says in John 14:6, "I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." Jesus was not only speaking of how one relates to the Father, but he was also speaking of what and who HE is.
We as men and women who follow after Jesus are invited to participate in life with him. "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." Jesus is the one who brings things to life so that they bear fruit.
I wonder what would happen if we chose to remain in Jesus, so much so that when we are prompted to act, to live into a better story that there is no hesitation, we simply respond to the prompting with in. To see His way as our way and the life He lives as the life we can find in Him and through Him.
So today, my hope is that I'll remain in Jesus and that I'll live the story He's writing in me.

What are your thoughts?

If you'd like to read a great book on this subject, read Donald Miller's book A Million Years in a Thousand Miles.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

To Be Told

I spent a good chunk of yesterday with the folks at Discover the Journey ( They've been given an incredible opportunity to partner with CNN to tell the story of two orphan children in Haiti. CNN will be showing the film on May 8 and 9th.
We were working on an event at the Chinese Graumen Theatre for this coming Saturday. As we were working through the day we paused and had a brief conversation about story. The desire of this bright and brilliant production company is to tell the stories of children around the globe, being an advocate for them.
I am convinced that story telling is one of the greatest ways to connect with the heart of a person. I believe it is in story that we find life and beauty, laughter and tears, the glory of victory and the pain of defeat. In story we find a connection to the the heart of a person.
Because of this we seek to use stories to communicate about those things we love or the pain we feel. I don't believe I've ever heard a friend speak of her engagement by giving me a bullet point list of facts. And why not? Because an engagement is a story bursting with life and the soon to be bride can't wait to chronicle the experience so the hearer can relive it with her, as she relives the story in its telling.
What are the stories you are telling today? What are the stories needing to be told? The one's that connect with your deepest emotions, greatest and hidden experiences and beautiful encounters with life. As you tell your story, watch as those around you engage in its telling.
And if you can't think of a story to tell, tell the story of something good going on in the world around you, advocate for someone by telling his/her story, find a story, live a new one, or tell the story of Jesus. There are a billion stories out there to be told. Find them! Live them! Tell Them!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The scent of Jesus

The other day I was invited to a friend's for dinner. I came in the building, and immediately smelled something that had the aroma of new carpet. I took the elevator to the 6th floor and stepped out and was overwhelmed by the strong scent of microwave popcorn. I walked a few steps more and the aroma of indian food hit me. Just beyond the indian food and well past the microwave popcorn, someone had burned part of dinner. i turned down one last hallway and the most glorious scent filled the space. I couldn't identify it, but it was good and it was my dinner.

Smell is a funny thing. It can draw you in or repulse you. It can stir up a memory or be a part of a new one. There is a smell that is associated with the memory of some of my favorite people. There are also smells, I don't care to ever smell again. Like the time I was thawing chicken in my microwave, got distracted, totally forgot about the chicken, left to go house sit and then came home to the most HORRID smell I've ever encountered to date. I knew instantly when I walked in the door that something was wrong.

Smell, it gives you away every time.

Jesus doesn't speak of scent. He encounters the aromatic offerings of the woman who broke an expensive jar of perfume at his feet, but really the concept of scent directly was not discussed. But, however Jesus did have a scent. He left it everywhere he traveled. People knew there was something about him that identified him as someone different, someone to watch, someone to know.

When I think about the scent of Jesus I desire to have my life smell like His. That when people encounter me in some form that the aroma that is left, is that of Christ and not of self.
2 Corinthians 2:14-15 says,"14But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him. 15For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing."

Last year I traveled to Seattle for some much needed time off. I stayed in a home just outside the city and woke up every morning to the sweetest smell. It was a combination of evergreen trees, flowers and simply the clean air smell that was everywhere. I woke up every morning, took a deep breath and said, "well good morning Jesus!" I could smell Him. It was as though he were right there in the room with me. Such an indescribable sweet scent that could have only come from the Creator.

We too leave scents.
What is the aroma you leave? What is the aroma the world smells of those who follow Jesus? I pray today as I go about the things of my schedule that I will leave an aroma that reminds people of Jesus.

Monday, April 12, 2010

The taste of Jesus

I hate when a sight and taste don't match up. Last year on my birthday I went to Disneyland. My friends and I went through the line to get our lunch and this piece of chocolate moussey yumminess stood out to me. My friends and I decided to buy it and split it. It looked so decadent. We ate our salads and then got ready for the main event, a triple layer, cookie crusted, chocolate mousse cake topped with chocolate shavings. It looked so amazing we couldn't wait to take our first bite.

The moment came and our forks sunk into the creamy chocolate delight. We were feeling overly cheesy being at Disneyland and all and so we waited to take our first bite together. We sank our forks into the cake and lifted them full of chocolate into our mouths and waited for the layers of chocolate to spark as they hit our taste buds.

We waited... and waited, but nothing. It tasted like cardboard! It was plain and horrid. We each took another bite hoping that the cake would be redeemed, but again, nothing.
The taste most certainly did not match the appearance.

The concept of taste is a little bit more challenging to see how Jesus invited people to taste, or even to see where He himself tasted. We see him see a crowd of people, has compassion on them and brings healing. His disciples realize there are ton of people and it's getting late, so they may need to eat. Jesus invites them to feed the crowd. So Jesus takes the little gift of loaves and fish and produces a feast! I am sure that tasted amazing.(Matt. 14:13-21)

We also see Jesus inviting the disciples to taste of his body and blood as they ate the one last supper together. I'm not sure how that would have tasted. (Luke 22:14-22)

Psalm 34:8 says, "Taste and know that the Lord is good, blessed is the man who takes refuge in him." I think the psalmist gets it right. We are to taste the Lord. Experience Him. Not just look at Him. Jesus painted pictures all through His life of experience. He invited people to experience life. I kinda think that taste is the active part of sight. One can see and do nothing, but to taste... one actually has to act. Taste is the litmus test to sight. Are things really as they seem?

Jesus acts all of the time. He sees the crowd, has compassion and heals. He hears a person, has compassion and acts. When Jesus invites people to act and they do, a taste is always left in the mouth of the participant. I wonder what taste I'm leaving? I wander how the world would taste differently if I were not merely a hearer of the word, but a doer? I wonder how Jesus would taste to me, if I didn't just study him, but I responded to him, taking a bite out of the life He has offered.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Jesus Touches Matthew 20:29-34

29As Jesus and his disciples were leaving Jericho, a large crowd followed him. 30Two blind men were sitting by the roadside, and when they heard that Jesus was going by, they shouted, "Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!"

31The crowd rebuked them and told them to be quiet, but they shouted all the louder, "Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!"

32Jesus stopped and called them. "What do you want me to do for you?" he asked.

33"Lord," they answered, "we want our sight."

34Jesus had compassion on them and touched their eyes. Immediately they received their sight and followed him.

Over a decade ago a friend gave me a great gift. She offered to sit with me and work with me through some of the pain of my past. I took her up on her offer. Our time was amazing, laced with powerful insight and wisdom spoken over me. On one particular day she asked a question that went very deep into my core. I began to cry, sob more accurately. She got up out of her chair, came to the foot of mine and sat holding me as I fell apart.

I resisted her touch. I felt uncomfortable. She sat and held until the tension left my body. She held until I was no long uncomfortable with her touch and the vulnerability that comes with being touched. When I think of touch that heals, I think of this moment in my life.

I love how the story of scripture shows the humanity of people and the wisdom of Jesus. Once again we see him walking, going about one task, hearing the call of others and responding. This time he was walking with a group, leaving Jerusalem. Even with all those people around, he stops and answers the call of two men who cry out to him.

"Lord, have mercy on us!"

Jesus goes to them, asks what they need and they respond by requesting their sight. Jesus was moved with compassion, touched their eyes and healed them.

I love that last part of the story. Jesus was moved with compassion and touched. Healing came to the two blind men, not only physically but spiritually.

Jesus continues to have compassion on people. He touches hearts and lives in various ways and he continues to heal through that touch.

That day, over 10 years ago, my friend Nancy was moved with compassion towards me and then was the touch of Jesus in my life. She held me until I knew and received the healing which comes through his touch.

Today Jesus continues to touch my life, brining hope and healing. I pray my response is always the same as that of the blind me, to get up and follow Jesus.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

John 9: Jesus Heard

35Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, "Do you believe in the Son of Man?"

36"Who is he, sir?" the man asked. "Tell me so that I may believe in him."

37Jesus said, "You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you."

I don't know about you, but I very much dislike being asked the same question twice by the same person. It really can get under my skin, so much that I almost always respond to the question, "You know, I told you this _____, fill in the blank of time past, but I'll give you the brief answer." It becomes surprisingly important to me to make sure the one who asks, knows that they should know the answer to this question already. I think this gets under my skin because I don't feel heard. And, feeling heard is very important to me.

In the story of John 9, Jesus again sees. He sees a blind man and heals him in a very unique way. And in typical Jesus style he does all of this on the Sabbath to make a point. He heals in a particular way to make a point. He speaks of the fact that He is the light of the world as He is here on earth. Of course the Pharisees all have their panties in a bunch because Jesus didn't abide by the rules of the Sabbath and they threw the blind man out, discounting his story and the story of his family.

Jesus hears all this, goes to find the blind man a second time and asks him a question. As a result of Jesus hearing and searching, the blind man comes to believe truth about Jesus, realizing it was not only his physical blindness which was healed, but also his spiritual.

I love that Jesus heard and seeks. He still does that today. He hears our thoughts, prayers, worries, hopes and he seeks us still.

Jesus also gives us the ability to hear. When we hear the stories of others how do we respond? When we hear some juicy gossip? Who knows, maybe gossip is how Jesus heard about the blind man being kicked out? Someone was intending to hurt and Jesus heard and brought healing. I can see it now, Jesus is standing with the disciples deciding where to eat that night and he hears behind him, "yeah, did you hear about the guy who was blind. Apparently that Jesus guy healed him, but it sure fired up the Pharisees and they kicked him out. I bet he sinned big time...." Jesus pauses the critical dinner conversation and goes to look for the man he had healed. There are a million ways the story of the blind man's rejection by the Pharisees could have been heard by Jesus. But the beautiful thing is that Jesus heard. He heard and he responded.

We saw that yesterday as Jesus saw and responded. Today we read that he hears and responds.

When you hear the gossip at the water cooler does it drive you to have compassion on the one who is being thrown under the bus? When you listen to a person's story do you hear what they are truly trying to communicate? Then do you do something about it?

I love that Jesus both hears and responds. It is a beautiful picture. Let's go out today and listen. And hear what is being said around us, and respond with compassion leading people to the one who truly hears.

Friday, April 9, 2010

The God of our Senses

For the next few posts I am going to take us on a journey through our senses.

Luke 13:11-13 (New International Version)

11and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. 12When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, "Woman, you are set free from your infirmity." 13Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God.

Let's set the stage. Jesus is teaching in the synagogue. As he was teaching he takes notice of a woman. She is bent over, unable to straighten. When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, Woman, you are set free form your infirmity. Then he touched her and she immediately was free.

Really it is an amazing scene. Jesus was going about his work, but he never stopped seeing. He was well aware of those around him and the needs which they carried. He was moved by this woman's oppression and by her infirmities and he wanted to give her a new story. He wanted to give her freedom from that which has her bound and bent over.

Jesus continues to see today. He sees and invites. We are always invited to come to Jesus. One of my other favorite stories of Jesus says that when he saw... he had compassion. Jesus still sees and has compassion.

There are a few things that strike me about this story. One Jesus is teaching when he sees. (He wasn't just walking around looking, he was involved in something else) Secondly, he saw and he invited her to come. She had to respond by going to Jesus. (I wonder what might have happened if she said, "no, I'm okay this way. I like back bent over and my spirit tied down." That is a question for another time.) But the invitation was too good to her, in fact, she didn't really know what he was inviting her into, she simply knew she wanted to respond and we know this, because she did respond. She went to Jesus. And lastly, Jesus healed her by touching her as is, saying she was set free of her infirmity. And she was free!

We follow a Jesus who sees. He sees us in the midst of our struggles, pain, joys and sorrows. We follow a Jesus who is constantly inviting us to go to him in our current condition. He invites us to give us a better story, living in His way, walking in His truth, and experiencing His life! It is amazing. It is magical. It is beautiful.

The beauty and power of sight continue as Jesus has enabled us to see.

I wonder what life would be like if were to see in the same way? We go about our every day lives and then, there it is, we see someone who is hurting, in need, broken, crying, bent over and then we invite. We invite them into a new story. A story of freedom.


Two Months and a new friend... (one life changing story of the past two months of my life)

It was nearly two months ago when I drove under the bridge near my home and saw three men sitting on the sidewalk. They were laughing and carrying on but I knew life was not an easy experience, as the sidewalk on grape st under the 5 freeway was the home of these men. I felt a nudge in my spirit, "Cari go visit them, bring them some dinner." I ignored the nudge I must admit. I ignored it for nearly a week. Then one night while driving with a friend to my home I finally said, "OK!!!, I'll go" I asked my friend if she would go with me to bring dinner to these men. I had no idea what would transpire.

That night we brought them dinner, learned their names and shared just a taste of life. Two days later, we brought dinner again and invited them to our church Easter feast in the park. After that feast, I would stop by each night under the bridge. These three men had somehow wormed their way into my heart and they had become friends. I called, them friends and I looked forward to seeing them each day as my friends. I last saw the three together, Mike, Bob and Bongo the following Saturday night. We chatted and they each told me they were looking forward to seeing me the next morning at church. I couldn't wait. That next morning came and my friends didn't show. So I went out looking for them. I found Mike, who told me of an event that took place the night before and the three had parted ways. His heart was broken.

That evening I saw Mike sitting alone under the bridge. It was strange. It wasn't okay with me. To have to live on the street is hard enough, but now to do it alone, I just hated to see Mike there so i pulled my car over and asked how he was doing. He started to cry as he shared about his day and his longing to go home. He said he wanted to stop drinking, or at least drink less to save the money he was earning by "flying a sign" (or holding a sign to earn money) to buy a bus ticket to go home. I felt a nudge in my spirit and said, "if you really cut back on drinking and you save your money, we'll find a way to match it until together we can get you a ticket!" He wept, a huge relief had just been lifted and there was a sign of hope.

I saw him the next day and he told me he had saved $40. The home church which meets at my house on Wednesday agreed to come together to help buy his ticket and match his funds. I saw him again through out the week and he'd give me an update on how things were going and he was saving his money quickly. Mike said he'd come to church with me the following Sunday. Sunday came and Mike came to church with his backpack and sleeping bag in hand. He smelled like one who lived on the streets and he brought a friend who he had met the day before, Ace. (Ace was blind and Mike was helping him find his way around town... there are more stories about Ace!) I watched as people in our church hugged them both, welcomed them into the church and saw two men standing before them who needed a family. No one questioned if it was okay for these men to be there, no one asked why they didn't bathe, no one spoke harshly... they just loved. It was so powerful.

That night I noticed that Mike's mattress was gone from under the bridge. He was not there either. The next day came and went, no Mike. The next, still no Mike. (I've decided one of the difficulties of making friends with people on the street is that there is no way of communicating with them, except in person. There is no address to go to, no phone number to call, no email address... you just had to go out looking.) Thursday I was sitting in my living room talking with a friend when i saw Mike and Ace walk by our house. I shot up, ran out the front door and shouted, "MIKE!" he turned around and we greeted one another. He told me he had saved enough money and he bought his own ticket! He was going to leave in one week! I said well then, we're going to throw you a good-bye party and fix you your favorite meal, a T-bone steak.

That Sunday Mike showed up to church again, saying hi to all of his new friends. Then after church we gathered together to throw MIke a party at Balboa Park. It was great. He helped set up, we grilled up steaks and shared stories. I learned more about him and his family. He had been on the streets for almost two years. It's been a rough two years. He spoke of the experience and told me he had seen things he'd not speak about again and most certainly not in front of a lady. I noticed something that day. MIke would ask to help and everyone would say, "no, this day is for you!" he'd ask again and over and over people, including me would say, "oh no, this is for you! we want to give to you today!" I noticed his countenance change each time when people would say no to his offer for help. So I asked if he'd help me do a project. It was amazing, by serving and being a part he knew he really belonged. (I learned so much just from that one encounter. How often to we just want to do things for people, when it is through including them that there can be true belonging!) Anyway... we gathered around Mike and gave him gifts individuals had purchased. We spoke of how he'd always have a family to come home to in San Diego and we prayed for him. He cried as he prayed for us.

MIke asked if I'd hold on to his bus ticket until Wednesday when he'd come by and pick it up. He didn't want to loose it. So I took the ticket and soon it was Wednesday. The doorbell rang promptly at 5:00 p.m. and I found a very scared man on my door step. Mike and I talked for about an hour and he wept bitterly, saying, "you make me cry! why do you make me cry..." then he'd say, "Cari, I just want to go home, please can I just go home." I didn't know how to take the pain away, calm his fear or really know how to say anything that would comfort him. So here we were, quite the unlikely pair sitting on my door step. It was an uncomfortable hour. There was so much pain in him and I felt as though i had so little to offer him. I had made him a gift to send, along with cards from others who wanted to wish him well, it was a small book of statements about identity. It began, "Mike is... valuable, known, created and so forth." As Mike wept, he began to question who he'd become and he'd say, "I'm nothing but a piece of crap!" I'd reply no... you're so much more. Then we read the book together. It wasn't a profound moment while in it, but as I look back I learn from every recounting of the conversation.

This man was filled with shame, he was the prodigal and he was going home. (I felt like I was sitting with the Prodigal son right before he left for his home, just wondering how he'd be received. Quite frankly I wondered how he'd be received. What had happened? Did Mike tell the truth in his stories? I didn't know. I just knew I was to love him and see him off.) It was long hour, we hugged and he told me he loved me and I don't think I'll ever forget seeing him and feeling the strangest love for him, God gave me it and I didn't understand it. He gave me the number of his niece to call and make sure she knew when to pick him up and off he went.

I wondered if I'd ever see him again. I wondered about his niece. I wondered many things. I called Janna and left a message. The next day she called back and said she was so glad to get the call. She had been very worried about him, the whole family had been from the sounds of it. She was excited to know he had gone to church with me and was excited to pick him up. The very next day, I got a call from MIke. He made it to Waterloo, Iowa and he was chatty about the bus ride, but there was relief in his voice. He was home, and he was loved!

I needed to share this story with you because I'll want you to understand this part of my story. You see, Mike left his mark on me. I'm still rummaging through the experience and finding all kinds of surprises in it. He's an unlikely teacher, but he had a lot to share.

There is a world full of "Mikes" around us. People who are trapped in the stories of their own lives who need someone to listen, to care and to respond. There are real needs from socks and shoes, to someone who will listen, to food, to reconcilers, to broken hearts and spirits. Oh the world is aching for the grace of Jesus! I pray that you'll experience it and pass it on. I pray you'll look for opportunities and as you receive from Jesus, that you'll pour out of that abundance. He is so good. Taste it! see it! Know it!

A Voice Worth listening to

I find myself using a new word as of late. It is a word I use to describe an experience, place or moment. Sometimes I use it to describe something I have seen that was amazing or something I smelled that enveloped my senses. I always use this word when I describe Molly Moon's Salted Carmel ice cream.

The word in itself conjures up a feeling of happy, sweet, great, or simply put, something just out of this world.

The word-


I believe all of life can be lived in such a way that it is magical on a daily basis. Now you must know I am actually, truly, talking about the kind of magical that fairy tales are made of. Moments too good to be true in every way.

Following Jesus is a very magical experience. An experience so out of this world that it simply doesn't make sense, nor does it fit into our own understanding of the way things should be.

As I look back over my time in San Diego I realize that something has changed with in me and I now, more frequently, listen to the guiding voice of the One who takes me on the greatest adventures. I've been invited by Him to do the craziest things and have seen Him glorified because I chose to act on the invitation. Who knew I would meet men like Mike who lived under the bridge, Heidi the film maker who wants to see children protected, Mary a brave woman who continues to serve even in times of difficulty, Reyna and her family at Christmas, a small group of girls in DC who are giving in ways that will change the world, women in Seattle who are M.A.D.! (making a difference), shop owners, cashiers, presidents of countries, senators, missionaries and so many others, who knew? Who knew that I'd wake up each day ready for the next adventure and when I listen and obey, Jesus is always glorified. Following the voice of Jesus results in the most amazing and magical moments.
Today is Easter. It has been a magical day. I woke up and took a friend to the airport. Because of that, I got to watch the sunrise (magical), I participated in a worship service and then took off to Marina park where some friends and I host an annual Easter lunch for the community. Over 100 people came and we ate and laughed and talked. I met some lovely people and soon I will be going over to Marco's house with a friend to learn how to make carne asada. We didn't have any at our feast and he thought I needed to learn. I agreed. So Marco, a fifty year old man and his family are taking me in to teach me how to make some for next year. (magical!)

Easter is a day that I get to celebrate the fact that Jesus raised from the dead. He truly raised from the dead! Truly unbelievable. And yet, He did. Today He invites us to share in His work. He even says that we are going to do more than He was able to do during His time on earth. That is an amazing thought. It is a life altering thought.

I'm challenged to live life listening to the voice of the one who confidently knows that nothing is impossible. Take a moment to think about that idea... Nothing is impossible, with Jesus.

Magical stories are the kind of stories in which we'd like to find ourselves, but so often "life" gets in the way. Practicality and pleasure get in the way. Magical stories are not easy stories. In fact they are some of the most dangerous of stories. They are filled with difficulty, hardship, and challenge, yet they are powerful, beautiful and life altering. Magical stories are the stories that take risk. Risk is one of the places magic is found. It has been in risking, reputation, normalcy, a certain quality of life, and personal comfort that I have found the magic of an unbelievable life, guided by a voice who knows how to create much better moments.

What keeps you from stepping out? What keeps you from risking? We were invited by Jesus to listen to the voice of the one who brings abundant life. To whose voice do you find yourself listening? Does it bring you a magical life?