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?


I am a product person. I don't know about you, but I love a finished product. I love the satisfaction of a task completed, a goal met or a dream reached! There is something so satisfying about the product.

On the other hand, I've not been much of a process person. I may want a job done well, but if it takes longer than the average popping time of a bag of microwave popcorn, it is inconvenient and not worth the effort. I've been trained well by a society that loves the instantaneous. Everything I could possibly need comes in the quick and easy. Or so I've been told.

I've even, at times, applied this to matters of faith. It would be so great if I could simply staple the fruit of the Spirit on my life's tree rather than actually take the time to see it grow. Psalm 1 encourages me to be like a tree who is planted by streams of living water that yeilds much fruit in season. In season? What does that mean? Am I really to wait for the season to come to bare fruit? Can't I simply do it on my own, and do it now! Process.

Jesus invites us to remain, abide in Him and we will bare fruit, fruit that will last. This whole analogy of fruit really messes with my need for instant gratification. I'm sure Jesus was not referring to obtaining fruit by means of a grocery, but rather by means of growth. Again, Process.

Each and every one of us is invited to live a life of process. As I walk along side of men and women in his/her faith journey I expect process. I get excited when i see growth and change take place, but some how with my own self, I've assumed I should be product ready at all times.

This idea has been challenged for me. It was in November that i decided to do something that I've always told myself I could never do, run a marathon. I've tried running before, but since I'd get tuckered out within the first minute I made the assumption I was incapable of running. This year, I decided to challenge that notion and set my eyes on a goal, a product. The fist step to reaching this goal was to commit myself to a process. Step two came in the form of inviting others to join me. Step three, a gracious friend gave me a fabulous Christmas gift and paid the entry fee for the race (The San Diego Rock and Roll Marathon). Step four, start running and just keep going. I found a training program and have stuck to it with diligence. I began by running in 30 second intervals. I continue to run/walk running 85% of the time. This weekend I will run/walk 14 miles! Miracles never cease! If you would have asked 10 weeks ago how far I could run, I'd say, "oh I'm not a runner." Today, only 10 weeks later I'd get to answer by saying, "I've run up to a half marathon!"

Ten weeks in the grand scheme of things doesn't seem to be that long, but if I was only concentrating on the finished product, I'd probably given up 9 weeks ago!

Reflecting on what it has taken for me to get where I am today, I realize that the process for training for a marathon is quite like the walk of faith. First step, commit to the journey of faith and the process of growth. Step two, invite others to journey with you. Step three, know your need and the needs of others, continually give out of your personal abundance and receive from those who desire to give to you. Step four, practice, implement, put on, and walk. Who knows where we could each be if we treated our walk with Jesus, the walk of faith like a process, not a product.

I will keep you posted as i continue to learn by running. My prayer for you is that you too will commit yourself to a process. Plant yourself by streams of living water, and when the season comes, you will bare much fruit! Fruit that will last.

A Christmas Miracle

This past Wednesday I was speaking with a friend, her church was giving away Christmas Trees and she wanted me to go with her to get one. Now, I had already decided not to get a tree this year and the last thing I needed was a tree to cart around. But my friend persisted, saying, "Cari maybe it's not for you, Maybe it's for someone else," with hesitation I said yes.
Just after I got off the phone with her another friend called to see if we could fit in a short walk before our full schedule of the evening's events. This was quite out of character for our work out routine as well as our schedules, but we just needed a short release and made plans. We set our meeting place and I set off to meet her. I waited for a bit and then decided to meet her at her building instead of our scheduled meeting place. Changing meeting locations doesn't usually work out and this night there was no exception - but I had no idea what was to come.

Because I changed corners I ended up being available to a family walking down the street. A young girl stopped me and asked, "excuse me, do you know where we can find the army where they give away food?" I asked, "the Salvation Army?" "Yes that's it," she responded. I didn't know. I asked if they could wait and I'd find out. I knew I was supposed to help in some way, but I didn't have my phone and all of my resources were in my building. I ran upstairs to try to find my friend, but could not find her.

I came back to the family, who by now had been given the address of the Salvation Army. I asked, "do you have a place to live?" "yes," she replied. I asked her name, it was Valerie. She was the only one who could speak english. I learned her dad was at work and she, along with her three sisters and mom were out looking for food as things have been very tight for them financially.

Valerie and I chatted, I wanted to get her connected to resources in the area. Then I remembered --I had a Christmas tree! I asked Valerie a last series of questions, "Do you have food?" "no" "Do you have a Christmas Tree?" I felt a little odd asking that question, but I knew it was a question I needed to ask. She replied, "no, we don't get to have Christmas this year, things are just too tough." "I would love to bring you a Christmas tree, would you like that?" Valerie asked her mom, her mom looked up at me and said something to Valerie to pass on to me. "Oh yes! that would be wonderful!" By this time, my friend was no where to be found and i was immersed in the moment, knowing that God had been involved with this divine appointment.

Valerie and I exchanged information and I said I'd come over sometime during the weekend to bring the tree. I was so excited and knew that God had set up our meeting. I had a friend call the family who speaks spanish. She confirmed all the information given to me by Valerie and found out their situation. David, the father, worked several jobs and made simply enough to cover rent, everything else was a luxury. Reyna, the mom, took care of the four girls, Valerie 10, Jennifer 5, Hemily 3, and Elizabeth 2, and had a job as well. Reyna communicated that things had just been very tough this year and that she knew their family would not have Christmas and they would be fortunate to simply have food on the table. My friend asked what the girls needed and if Reyna and David needed anything. She responded with only ideas for the children for she and her husband knew that taking care of their girls was of greatest importance and value. They set a time, Saturday at 6:00 and the miracle continued.

I called several friends and told the story of Reyna and her family, people jumped at the chance to give with such generosity. Before the day's end we had clothes for the girls, toys for the girls, stockings, tree lights and decorations, stocking stuffers for everyone in the family, gifts for David and Reyna, food for the family and gift cards galore! Oh and of course, the Christmas tree that I didn't want! It was amazing and so beautiful to see it all come together. The beauty was found in so many unexpected places and I could see how God had orchestrated the entire event. I could see how people had grown in their own understanding of the generosity found in Jesus as people gave not only out of their abundance, but out of their need.

Evening came and it was time to make the delivery! We needed two cars to carry it all! Two friends joined me as we traveled to their home. We pulled up to their home. It was a modest two bedroom apartment that was enclosed by a large black metal gate. The four girls stood at the doorway, waiting with such expectancy for the delivery of what they thought was just a Christmas Tree. We unloaded the tree and brought it to them. Their apartment was small but very clean and I could tell that they took much pride in the very little they owned. Soon after the tree was set up, boxes full of lights and ornaments were brought in. The girls were so excited and Reyna had a hard time soaking it all in. She smiled and watched as the girls, my two friends and I decorated the tree together. We stayed for a few hours, singing, decorating, dancing, laughing and taking pictures. We took some time to pray for the family and Reyna told the girls they could each open one gift. The girls opened a children's picture Bible that was in spanish and a game. Reyna opened one of her gift cards along with a poppy seed cake that had been made for her by a woman in my church. She cried. We hugged each of the girls and then I hugged Reyna, she held so tight and kept saying thank you over and over and over again as we both cried. A miracle had taken place and we each were witness to it. It overwhelmed me... it overwhelmed my friends and it overwhelmed Reyna and her family.

We drove away that evening in wonder. It was a gift to us to be a part of what God was doing! I am amazed by His generosity. I am so glad I missed my friend that night.

This is the beauty of how we get to live as men and women who follow after the way of Jesus. We get to be a part of His miraculous plan. We get to taste and know that He is good. We get to be the aroma of Christ among those who are saved and those who are perishing.

I wonder how many opportunities we miss because we are not willing to mess up our plans? I wonder how many opportunities I meet cause I'm not willing to mess up my plans? I am thankful that I was attentive and I pray that this kind of story will not be one that comes around every once in a while in our lives, but that it becomes the norm. My prayer is that we will be attentive to God, seeing with His eyes, hearing with His ears and responding with His heart! Cause you and I never know when we will get to bring the light and hope and joy of Christ into the lives of others... maybe just by walking down the street!

Pray today that God will make you attentive to those around you and look for ways to be a blessing!

80% off all things Christian

On a recent trip to the Pacific Northwest I drove by an outlet mall that contained a store selling "Christian" products. The above caption was written in large red letters on a billboard towering above the mall.
I was caught off guard by the sign and it's message. First I laughed out loud and then called a friend to share in the moment. (Being the extrovert that I am, experiences must be shared with someone) I truly couldn't believe the wording chosen and then was struck by it's significance.
I was struck because I think that is how people often think about Christianity in general. Often others are sold an 80% off message; one that invites individuals to pray a prayer for salvation but leaves out following Jesus. He may comfortably and even traditionally be one's Savior, but the Lordship part is a little more difficult to swallow, and often the true idea that one needs salvation from anything is challenge as we are brought up in a culture that does not like to need.
God did not send His son into the world to give a sweet message to simply pump people up, make them feel encouraged and walk away with a feeling that does not lead towards any life change. God sent His son because He deeply cared for and mourned over the separation from men and Himself. He sent His son because, as He looked to earth and watched how men and women treated one another other as well as creation, His heart grieved. He sent His son to invite individuals into a new way, a new rhythm, a new set of priorities, a new life. (Matthew 5-7 give a pretty full picture of this new way).
I find that my heart grieves too. I feel the brokenness of relationship between God and man and so deeply desire to see things made right, to see men and women respond to the call of God on his/her life with abandon. To see men and women courageously respond to the Creator's invitation to come and be a part of a new Kingdom. I do believe that the Kingdom of God is at hand, and there is much to do and become and we each will be used as an agent of change as we ourselves are being changed. (Romans 12)
Those who chose the cheeky wording for the book store or rather, all things Christian store, sign I'm sure had no thought of the impact of their words or that anyone would respond as I did internally. I myself with caught off guard by my own grief and anger which had taken over me. All at once I began to beg at the feet of Jesus to increase my thirst for him, that I might hunger for Him and His way. For it is so easy to be a 20% follower of Jesus and it is so difficult to give more, and yet I know the reward is great. Following after Jesus is the most difficult, easy job I've ever had.
After I prayed over my own life I began to pray for wisdom as I meet with individuals who have questions about what it means to follow the way of Jesus. What does it mean to love the Lord and serve Him only? How do we as men and women who believe and follow after Jesus, do so with a 100% kind of faith and action? I am honored to walk with people in this way, and know I have much to learn in the journey.
My prayer is that God will continue to have favor over the conversations, invitations given, and opportunities I have to invite people to follow in the way of Jesus. Thanks for praying this prayer with me. Continue to pray it with me. Pray too, that Jesus will give you a hunger that is never satisfied for Him and for His way and that in whatever space you live, work, learn and play that Jesus will open doors for you to model, teach and walk in the way of Jesus, inviting others to join as you go.


God is a God of order. He creates things to work in patterns and rhythms. He designed the earth to rotate, gravity to work in such a particular fashion and the seasons to come and go with such ease, creating the perfect rhythm for all things to work together, to work well and to sustain.
A few weeks ago I was discussing the last few months of my life with a friend. In the midst of the conversation she mentioned how she was needing to find order in her life. I immediately felt a sense of release. ORDER! The release of hearing a word that identifies a felt need was a huge relief. I was and am in need of order.
August was full of good things, I spoke for a summer camp at Mount Hermon, led worship for La Canada's family camp at Mission Springs, held core team meetings for mentorship and vision casting and moved all of my earthly belongings into storage. September came and with it a new rhythm. The bible studies I help with and/or lead were up and running again after a summer hiadous, College students were coming back from their summer breaks and I could begin to feel the rhythm created by the U.S. school calendar beat. With September also comes a trip to Washington DC where I was able to meet with individuals, help with the National Student Leadership Forum on Fatih and Values and connect with a group of young women who God has placed in my life to love, pray for and encourage.
I arrived in San Diego, ready to move into my new home and went to set up shop, when I noticed the carpet was wet! A flood!!! After a few weeks the problem was taken care of and all repairs were made. This happened just in time for me to hop on another plane, this time to Oregon. I had been planning this trip for some time. For the past year I have prayed and prepared for a women's adventure retreat where I was to be the spiritual director/guide for the experience.
It was just prior to this trip that I had the conversation about order with my friend. I think God was trying to tell me something. In a span of three days I heard two sermons and was encouraged by two women in their own journeys of finding order and rhythm.
The trip was beautiful. The leaves in the Hood River Valley had changed to pristine shades of yellow, orange and red. The rain fell lightly and the sun shown daily. I noticed how all of creation ran in perfect order. I was encouraged by the order found in creation.
Today I sit in my new condo with a plan to move in on Wednesday of this week. I am excited and ready to create order for myself in a new place.
God created us, I believe with a need for order. I believe order and rhythm, when found in the rhythm of Jesus and not personal control, are a beautiful thing to the onlooking world. I wonder what the world sees when they watch my life? I am challenged by that question, and desire to have a life that screams the name of Jesus in all things.
So today, I invite you to take a step back from your own life. Where do you see chaos ruling? To what rhythm have you fashioned your life's song? My prayer for us as we journey together is that we'll reflect the rhythm of Jesus and that the chaos that can tend to creep up will be stilled as life begins to play to the rhythm, the order of the master composer and creator, Jesus.

Hope has come

Hope. It is something for which I sense the world aching. It seems to be the theme of the majority of my conversations. It was a central theme in this past month's election. Many awaited as they longed for hope in the form of their canidate of choice taking office. We look for hope in relief from the economic mess in our world and we look for hope in relief from the stresses of our daily lives. Over 2000 years ago there was also an ache for hope. It had been over 400 years since the Israelites had heard from the Lord, they were held captive and were in great need of relief from the years of turmoil, silence, fear, and captivity. Hope was needed like water to a desert wanderer. This longing for hope I see today.

Yesterday I called one of the young women who lives upstairs only to find her in the midst of a personal crisis. I invited her to come downstairs and she ended up doing so. By the time she made it through our door she was a wreck. She was feeling as though all of life was collapsing around her and she could do nothing to stop it. She kept asking, "what did I ever do to deserve this? What will ever become of me? All hope is lost." Although those were not her exact words, they were the theme in the midst of pain, fear and questions. I listened to a young woman in the midst of a battle for hope. She spent the night on our couch and woke the next morning to find hope restored as she found a new circumstance in which to place her hope.

I have listened to countless stories over the past months of people unsure of what to do with God and life, because life's circumstances or even the potential of things that could come cause one to waver in hope. I read once that hope is faith coupled with expectation. Today in My Upmost For His Highest I read, "If your faith is in experiences, anything that happens is likely to upset that faith; but nothing can ever upset God or the almighty Reality of Redemption; base your faith on that, and you are as eternally secure as God." Hope that will not fail is hope that is placed in life's only constant faith coupled with expectation from and in the Lord.
As I have entered the Advent season I am highly aware of a need for hope and as I bring my friends before the Lord I find myself begging the Lord to give them and be their hope. I have also had to ask myself, "in what do I place my hope?" If it is in anything other than the Almighty, it is false and will fail me, for hope is not the fulfillment of my wishes, but it a rich expectancy placed in the character and being of God. Hope Has Come.


Yesterday I was leaving my house just in time to cross paths with Harold. He was walking down the street holding his backpack, sleeping bag and a small bag of groceries. I looked and him and said, "Hi there!" He said hello back. "How was your rest last night," I asked. "Oh, okay, I've only been here three days and have slept at Balboa. I've heard though that isn't a very safe place at night." "You've heard right, I know it's not a great place once the sun dissapears. Is there any way i can help you?" He didn't ask for anything. I then told him about our church that is with in walking distance from my home and invited him to come.

He said he would.

I went and picked up a few things for church and was on my way. I pulled up to the grade school where our church meets and there was Harold, talking with one of my friends. Harold helped us set up and then sat down and shared with us his story. He's been all over the place. He has worked hard, paid for mistakes of his past and is wanting to move forward. He told us of how he'd been taken advantage of and how he wants just simple things, like a janitorial job and a place to sleep. He lost his mom, dad and sister all within a period of five years and is now alone, in nearly every sense of the word.

I left our conversation with one phrase. Harold wants to remember he's human. He wants to feel connected to another human and wants nothing out of the ordinary. Just some dignity and someone to see him as a person and not an object.

Isn't that the truth for so many of us! We just need to be reminded we're human. We're not objects, we are people. We aren't careers, we are people.

We spent time calling shelters, drawing maps and helping Harold know he's not alone. He is not alone! It all started with a hello and quickly moved to church caring for him. Please pray for Harold as he is finding his way here in San Diego.

Weight and Beauty

I was very young when I had an experience that changed me. I was never a small child, but I was also never an extraordinarily large child. I was simply a child, happy and oblivious to the battle to stay thin. Then one day, a friend, made a comment about my weight and stopped being my friend.

When this happened I realized that weight and beauty and love and acceptance were all intricately tied together. If you were not beautiful or weighed too much, you were not lovable nor were you acceptable. Rejection was bound to happen if someone found out that you really weren't pretty and love was very conditional.

From that point on I struggled with my weight. It was an up hill battle. A battle that I handed myself over to in surrender for months and years. I used phrases like I'm just not or I'll never be or I won't ever experience or I am not beautiful, athletic, sexy and also found my self using the this phrase as the follow up, "therefore, I am not valuable or lovable."
The negativity did not drive me toward loosing weight to feel better, instead it drove me to gaining weight, causing a cocoon of sorts, enveloping around me, ensuring people would reject me for my body, before they would get to reject me in reality.

This trap kept for the majority of my life. Only recently have I made a switch. It has been a powerful switch. One that is literally altering the way that I live, act and eat. For many years I have know that my weight was about much more than a lack of self control or even eating too much.

I have known that my weight was a reflection of my own attitude towards self. I felt trapped. I felt as though I was suffocating and couldn't get beyond this straight jacket. I would pray and fight battles in my mind.

I knew that for generations the women in my family have battled their weight. So I felt that if I were to over come this, I would have generations behind me that I'd be fighting for as well.
There is something to the things handed to us by generations. But those things do not have the power to entrap us. They have the power we give them.

So back to the life change...

I was walking with a friend this year and we were speaking of food. One of us, I can't remember which one, said, "food just has so much power over me. It's like I always say yes to it when it speaks. Food traps me." When I heard or spoke those words, I immediately responded out lout, FOOD IS INANIMATE! It doesn't have emotions. It doesn't have control. It can not do anything to us. It doesn't have a soul! The only power food has, the only power, is what we give it. And I for one am taking it back!"

That day my entire attitude toward body and weight and beauty changed. In reality it had taken years to get to that point and many other conversations, but that day, everything came together and I bought back that which I let slowly slip into the hands of a lie and an inanimate object. Since that time I have lost 35 pounds. I had allowed the cocoon of my body raise up to 255lbs and it has slowly and steadily crept its way down. I have 65 more pounds that I'd like to loose, but for now, I'm happy with what has been lost.

I'm happy with what has been lost because much more life has been gained. I feel beautiful. I know I'm lovely. I know that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I no longer feel as though I have to pray those into existence, but I get to simply sit in them as truth. I can write this blog and tell the world without with out shame my weight because I am not any more valuable today than I was at 255 nor than I will be at 150. Weight and beauty do not give me value. Weight and beauty do not determine value.

My value has been given to me by my Creator who made me with intention, love and fine craftsmanship. He knew exactly what He was doing and I'm so thankful. The truth is, we each are valuable, no matter what size we are, how much money we make, the acne we have or the lack of hair on our head. Our value does not rise and fall on any of these things.

For God so loved the world that He SENT his Son to us that we might not die, but live in everlasting life. Amazing thought. This says nothing about for God so loved the skinny blonde with great boobs. It is all inclusive. Our value gets to rise and fall on that love. A love that does not ebb and flow with time, experience or outward appearance. It is a love that is unconditional, all of the time, and in every circumstance.

Jesus did come to save us. We need saving. I need saving. I needed saving from a self who desperately wanted my appearance to change so that I could be valuable. I needed saving from the idea that value and love were conditional. I needed saving from my body that trapped me into a cocoon of pounds that truly made me hide.

I have been saved. And I am currently living into the reality of that salvation. As I loose weight I feel like I am becoming more and more of the true and authentic me. The me that I've been hiding. The weight was a mask, it was evidence that I had not let go of my belief that my value was derived from appearance. I no longer wear that mask, it is slowly melting away.

I am so excited as I see me, the true me, come out with every step, with each day and with every pound lost.

What do you think?
Where in your own life do you need salvation?
What has kept you from believing Jesus has given you love and value?

Marathons, faith, fruit and process

Today was another day of training for my new running regiment. As I ran I was struck by the fact that, well, I was actually running. In all of my young 35 years I have told myself continually that I am NOT a runner. I will NEVER be a runner. I can NOT and NEVER will do a marathon.

My words were laced with such adamant feelings and beliefs on the subject and my actions followed suit. Then it happened... I decided one day I was tired of my blatant opposition to the concept of running and I decided I would run a marathon.

Now, you must understand that I have tried running many times. In fact every time I ran, I expected that I'd be able to just go out and run a mile with no problem at all. Of course I could run a mile! Then I'd run for about 25 yards and quickly realize, "running is not my thing." So when I decided I to run a marathon I knew that a process was about to commence. I needed to do this slowly, steadily and I needed to not do it alone. So I invited a friend to run with me. And the training began.

This all took place in November of this year.

When I started running, 30 seconds felt like death! I mean to say I was, out of breath, sweaty, and I completely knew I could not go any further. But I kept pushing. Because somewhere deep inside of me, I knew I could get there. My vernacular changed and my once common usage of the word CAN'T, turned into a WILL. (notice it was not a can... but a will)

Today I went out for my short run. On this particular day a short run includes a 50 minute jog, where I run for 4 minutes at a time and walk for 1 minute in between each set. I didn't even run out of breath. My body wasn't sore and never did I utter the words, "I can't go on!" (although if I'm honest I did utter, I hate this! and can't the sun not be so sunny. and why do so many people stop and take pictures in SAn Diego! however)

This past weekend I accomplished a 12 mile run, while I was in the Seattle area on a speaking engagement. Needless to say I was excited! And continue to be. In reality, November was not that long ago, but it has not felt like an easy journey. It has been long. It has involved a change in belief and action. It has involved a deep commitment to a process.

I think a lot of life is like training for such an event. I know the marathon will come and go, and yes I am overly excited that I will accomplish this feat. But the process has changed me. It is like the invitation to faith. I know that often I think of faith in terms of instantaneous change. The kind of change that comes in a moment decision. My life was turned around in an instant! All became new.

When Jesus met with his friends just days before he was to be crucified he gave them some valuable insights and invitations. One such invitation, dare I say plea is found in John 15. Jesus says... "I am the vine and you are the branches, remain in me and you will bare much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing."

I continue to learn about the analogy of fruit that is often used in scripture. Fruit is not instantaneous. In fact, fruit comes slowly and steadily. It comes with work. It comes with feeding and it comes with help. Fruit does not often grow alone. Fruit is a pretty good analogy (thanks Jesus) But I think all too often we believe the fruit that should come from our lives or the lives of others comes in grocery store form. You just go pick it up. you don't have to work for it, you don't have to be disciplined, or committed, you simply show up, find what you want and go. Then we take that fruit, staple it on the tree of our life and wonder why when life hits hard that our fruit falls off, or it rots, or it simply doesn't work as we'd like.

Like training for my marathon, fruit and faith are a process. A process that takes time, consistency, effort and remaining planted in soil that is good. I continue to learn by the process of training. I continue to be amazed by the work of God as I press on. I know that as I continue to train and look into the 16, 18 and 20 mile runs ahead, that I may believe it is impossible. Which right now it is, but with time effort and the work of God changing my insides, I will be able to accomplish the goal set before me.

Maybe Paul was on to something with the whole press on towards the goal, to win the prize thing? Maybe Jesus really meant what He said when He invited us to plant ourselves in HIM so that we could bare fruit. Maybe there is something to the idea of grace as we and others grow in faith and BECOME.

My thoughts are rambly and long today. It must be the endorphins?!

Abide. Remain and watch! Fruit is coming
Today I was walking downtown after church. We made up sack lunches and were handing them out to my new friends on the street. I met Ike, Walter, John, James and David. They were guys most of the world passes by, I assume. They each had a story to tell and a life to be shared. It was a blessing to meet them and to be able to put names to the faces that I will more than likely see again as I walk the streets of downtown San Diego.

As I left to walk home, I saw some trash blowing down the street. I thought to myself, I should pick that up, this is someone's home. The second thought was... eh, it's just one piece of trash it won't matter that much. The third thought was... it matters... and I picked up the trash.

You may be wondering why in the world I'd start to write a blog about picking up trash, it isn't all that profound a thing to do. But it isn't so much the picking up of the trash as the process it took me to actually pick it up. Have you ever noticed that when confronted with an injustice of some kind that the initial thought is almost always to act. And that thought is almost always met with a second thought, the reason not to act. It is at the second thought where a great decision is to be made. What will my response be?

This past week I watched three movies, "The Blind Side, " "up" and "The Soloist." Such great films that tell the stories of lives changed through the encounter of another. Each story was different, but in each story there was a split second that took the story from ordinary to extraordinary. That split second is what I like to call the Third Thought.

Daily each one of us have choices to make. We come face to face with another and are so wrapped up in our own worlds that we don't take time to think through what we witness as we come across other individuals.

Like the trash today, we face the opportunity to act, to do something and so often we stop at the second thought. A few weeks back a friend was going jogging. She was training for a race and had a schedule to keep. She ran by a woman covered in a blanket and noticed two tiny feet peeking out of the other end of the blanket. First Thought: "I have to do something!" Second Thought: "I don't have anything to give, I can't run back home now and get something, I can't stop, I mean what good will it do for me to stop?" The thoughts kept coming. She knew she was to do something, but got stuck in the second thought.

It is in that moment that we must recognize and listen for the third thought. The one that says, stop what you're doing, be inconvenienced and do something!

Today I've thought a lot about Advent. Advent is the season we, as those who follow Jesus, celebrate in preparation for the coming of Jesus. God, became flesh and walked among us! That is a story of inconvenience. Think about it. God.. all powerful... almighty... creator of heaven and earth now confined to the form of a baby? That is what I would call highly sacrificial and very inconvenient. God became Emmanuel, God with us. And for those of us who believe and who call on the name of Jesus, we now get to carry Emmanuel with us as we walk, run, do errands, go to the store, ride in elevators and roam this earth. What then shall we do with it? Will we stay to ourselves? Will we stop at our second thought? Or will we push through to the thought that leads to action.

The invitation for me today is to act. That this advent would be a season of action. A season where my encounter with Emmanuel throws me into encounters with the lives of others that will alter our stories for the better.

I spoke with a friend on Thanksgiving about that second thought moment. We talked about moments that we've missed because we didn't act. My friend the runner, she still talks about the jog where she didn't stop. I know I have missed countless opportunities to be light and show that Emmanuel is with me and in me.

I would love to have Advent be a season of action. To be a time of training where we practice third thought action. Where we push through the doubts and hesitations of the second thought and live into making someone else's story a little better.

So I write, I write mostly to hold myself in submission to Emmanuel. I write because my heart aches for those in the world whose stories could be altered by a loving caring God. I write because I feel as though there is something needed. I write because it was my third thought.

I pray today that you too will eyes to see the needs of others. That you'll stop and notice expressions on faces, you'll hear with different ears and that you'll act! What an amazing Advent Season it will be if each of us were to act on behalf of someone else daily, not just to be nice, but because we have God present with us and in us and inviting us to represent Him to the people in our lives.

Go be inspired rent The Soloist, go see The blind Side and take a moment to know that they were just people who acted because they thought three times.

The moment before

I’ve been thinking a lot about sin in recent days. For years and years I’ve considered sin to be the activity of making a wrong choice. In recent months I’ve come to understand that it is so much more. It in fact is our enemy.

We’ve, those of us brought up within the culture of the church have come to understand that sin is something to be avoided at all costs. Sin is shameful. Sin is this horrid act that is to not be found out or touched. Sin is something we do that causes us to be separate from God.

While, sin is horrid and it does separate us from God, I think in part we’ve missed the point.

Some how in some way we’ve become confused. We’ve missed the point. We’ve concluded that the result is the cause. We do good works that causes us to be a “christian” We do bad works that causes us to think poorly about ourselves.

Our actions cause a change on the inside.


I believe that sin is much more powerful. Just as I believe that being a follower of Jesus is the beginning to doing good works.

How much of our actions are rooted in a way of thinking. Paul writes about the sin that so easily entangles us. I wonder if that sin might begin with the way about which we think of ourselves, God and others. When I picture sin that so easily entangles, I imagine a person wrapped in the middle of a knitting yarn gone horribly array. One can’t seem to find the end to be begin the process of detanglement. Think of it. If sin is making a choice that is in direct opposition to God’s best, some of the most powerful choices we make that are in complete opposition to God take place in the choices we make to believe lies. We hold our lies tightly. We wrap ourselves in them. They begin to suffocate us and then we act. Our actions come as a result of our imperfect, very much NON-Christ centered thinking. The fruit of our thinking.

When we’re told that we will experience freedom to do what is right, that freedom comes from the freedom of fully believing and living in the truth of who God is, who we are in light of who He is and who others are as well.

Right thinking, true thinking, is freedom. It leads to freedom. Anything else is death. Death that suffocates, destroys, steals and kills.

We’ve for so many years made lists of things that are right to do, things that are wrong to do. We create a system of behavior modification and actually never deal with the true sin that is so easily entangling us. We may deal with our addiction, but we don’t actually take time to look at the cause. The cause, is the root sin and it is something for which we need to repent. Repent: to turn and walk in a new direction.

Sin, for years and years has been an activity list for me. If you stay away from the Big sins then you’re okay, and you’re okay in the eyes of God. But anyone can modify his/her behavior for a certain period of time. God is truly the only one who can free us from the bondage and pain of sin as it entangles us to believe and walk in mistruths about self, God and others.

Galations 5 speaks to the fruit of the spirit. These are the qualities of one who is freed by the Spirit, to live out of His breath. We become like the one within us. The one who dwells in our hearts and minds and modifies our behaviors and choices.

The fruit of self, well that fruit may look good for a moment, but it sure becomes rotten quickly. Even the greatest, most kind acts that come from self will rot. Fruit that has been stapled on the tree, rather than grown only lasts so long.

The fruit of our humanity goes all the way back to a distrust in God’s word. Eve may have sinned first, but I don’t believe the sin was partaking of the fruit. Yes that was a pretty horrific choice, but the sin came when she chose to believe that God has sold out, He was holding out on her. He didn’t really love her and have her best in mind and heart. She believed God to selfish. She believed in a god who looked out for his best interest, who was cruel and who actually made a mistake. So she took that bite, the bite that changed everything. She believed and it was credited to her as unrighteous.

The act was a result of a misguided belief.

I wonder how much we do to deter ourselves from acting on a sinful desire, to modify our behavior and just survive, while we are entangled in a great sin. The heavy burden of misguided truth about self, God and others. Anything less than loving the Lord your God with all of yourself and just like that, loving your neighbor as yourself is sin and leaves us to take a bite of the forbidden fruit in front of us.

This understanding of sin has been so incredibly profound for me that it has given me a new passion to see people set free from sin. Sin that kills, steals and destroys. Sin that always leads to death. Sin that saps the life out of our very being without discrimination.

I urge you my friends, repent and believe. Repent of thinking of yourself as less than, of questioning God’s goodness. Repent of believing you are worthless and will never be loved. Repent of thinking less of God than He truly is. Repent of seeing your neighbor and hating. Repent of your thinking! Repent!


You will be made


Free to be, the purposeful creation of an all mighty God who is good and faithful. Free to be loved and to love. Free of self loathing. Free of shame. Free of the heavy burden that you carry. Free of making choices out of shame or to hide or to lie or to keep an image. Free to be the image of God, He has designed you to be.

Will we, while the enemy is prowling around, experience a life completely isolated from lies and misguided truths about self, God and others, no I do not believe so. But I do believe that as we seek truth and freedom that the hang time of the lie decreases and it is much easier to grasp on to that which is true.

God has come to seek and save that which was lost.

He came to set us free, by the truth.

He came to shake up the lies of our ancestors. The lies deeply embedded into our heart, mind, soul and strength and breathe life into the death the lies have brought.

These musings I have a feeling will continue as I continue to walk with people. I see the power of sin’s dark hold on the lives and hearts of men and women a like and it so angers me. It causes me to hate sin with a passion. I hate how it destroys and how the evil one twists it to look so beautiful. Act on your shame and you’ll feel better, knowing all along the action itself will heap on more shame. It is a spiral only leading to death.

A death that Jesus died on the cross so that we might live free of this horrific, incomplete, misguided, “truth” that we so easily believe.

The whole gospel changes everything. Sin entered with one thought that led to a bite that altered history. LIFE entered through one life that reframed the thought, proving He is Good and His love endures forever.


One of my favorite memories

Today I had made plans for late afternoon. I received a call saying that the woman with whom I was meeting was going to be late and so I decided to get some things done around the house. As I was walking by the front I noticed my neighbor out front. I went out to ask a question and helped her move some things that were blocking her car then decided I might as well take down the Christmas lights out front while I’m out here. As I was taking down the lights I noticed a small girl walking down the street. She wore a blue jacket, was carrying a small back pack and a sling with a waterbottle in it. I said hello and she hung her head and continued walking. I noticed tears on her face and so I asked her if I could help her in any way. She said no and continued walking. She reached the end of the driveway and stopped. I again spoke up, “honey is there something I can help with, are you lost?” She came back to me and asked if she could borrow my phone. I went inside and grabbed my phone and brought it to the girl. She called a woman who turned out to be her mother and asked if her mom could come pick her up. She handed me the phone and I spoke with the woman. I told her how to get to my home and then she asked if I’d stay with her daughter until someone could be here. I said of course.

I invited the young girl in my home and asked, “what have you been doing?” She said, “I need to find somewhere where I am loved.” I asked a few more questions and then fixed her some lunch. “How long have you been walking?” She replied, “I left home yesterday, I ran away. I just wasn’t feeling loved there and so I ran away.” My heart raced as I knew this was no coincidence that she was in my home. “Where were you headed?” I asked. “I had a dream and there is this place in my dream that i want to find.” I asked, “do you know where it is?” “No” she replied. “What is the place like?” “Oh I can’t tell you that it is top secret!” she said as she ate my Christmas leftovers. “What is it like? Is it safe there?” “Oh yes it is safe!” “Do you feel loved there?” “Very much, I know I’m loved there” “Do you experience peace there?” “No, it’s a little crazy in this place.” she commented. I continued to ask questions about this place about which she dreamed and other experiences. “Do you feel alone?” “No,” she replied “God gave me two imaginary friends that keep me company, so I know I am not alone.” I replied, “He’s given you so much more than two imaginary friends. He himself is with you!” “really?” “Yes, He is with you and you are not alone.” I said as she looked up with a wondering eye.

The conversation continued. I would ask questions and she’d reply with various answers and a continued use of the phrase, “I just want to feel loved.” I asked, “What is home like? Do mom and dad love you? “Oh yes they love me, but it just doesn’t feel like it is enough. It never feels like I’m really truly loved, or loved in a way that makes me KNOW I’m fully loved.” I said, “You know, you are loved. You are loved by God and he wants me to tell you that He loves you so much. He looks at you and sees His beautiful daughter, His princess, His creation who He loves. He is with you and you will never be alone.” The young girls begins to sob, “you are so nice, you are so good to me,” she says as she wipes her nose. “Oh it isn’t me who is good, it is God. You see I was supposed to be somewhere else right now, but God knew you were coming and he brought you here to my house so I could tell you that He loves you! He does. You are His and He will never leave you.” The young girl looks up at me as the door bell rings.

I go to the door and there is a man with tears in his eyes who immediately says, “I want to see my daughter.” He goes into the dining room where he finds his young girl. I walk into the kitchen so the two can be alone. The father cries and holds his daughter repeating, “I love you so much, your mother and I love you so much. We are so sorry that you felt you had to run away. We just love you so much.” I am listening and crying in the kitchen as the fathers love for his daughter was overwhelming and the reunion was one of the more powerful experiences I’ve encountered. The man comes to me and hugs me. As I hold him he falls apart, sobbing and saying, “thank you, thank you. My new years wish has come true. I have my daughter back. You have given us our daughter, You have given us our daughter. Thank you thank you!” He asked how he could repay me and I told him it was a gift to me to help and that loving his daughter was gift enough.

I knew I had to give something to the girl, so I asked them if they’d wait as I got something for the young girl. I went to my room and prayed, “Lord what can I give her.” I put together a bible and a few other books, putting them in a gift bag and handed them to the girl along with my number. I told the father that I had worked with students for many years and if ever there was anything I could do to never hesitate to call. I would love to continue to be a part of their story. He hugged me once again, crying and a little more at peace. The young girl, Lucy, hugged me as well and they went out the front door.

I stood at the door overwhelmed by what had just transpired. I was amazed by the beauty of God, the timing of it all, the powerful reunion and the honesty of this young girl. She was lost, and yet the whole time God was leading her. She had traveled for nearly 20 miles from home, walking through the night and somehow ended up on my street at that exact time. God knew the girl needed to know His love and he placed me there for just that time.

It is truly amazing what God does when our eyes are open. I’m still a bit in shock over the events and awed by our God who is so good. There are so many people like that little girl in the world. People who have run away and want to know love. People who need to be reunited with their Father. I pray that as you go, you’ll notice the tears and be persistent in your care. (even when they first turn their back on you) We each need the love of our Father! We each have the ability to lead others to Him.

May this year be marked with many more homecomings and family reunions!

Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!

God is God

In so many ways I have created God in my image. He is someone for whom I’ve fashioned a particular design in my mind about who he is and what he is like and how he works in the world. This image of God I’ve created has been formed through many experiences, lessons, books, people as well as the environment in which I’ve lived.

In several discussions with people over the past years I’ve come to realize that the image of God I’ve created is a small one. One where I am at the center and God really placates to me. That sounds a bit harsh, but I think in some fashion we all have an idea of God that no longer has Him at the center, but somehow we’ve wormed our way in to that place.

Evidence of this comes when I think about my prayer life and a concept, in which we in Western culture love to concentrate, the idea that God will give you the desires of your heart if you believe enough. I’m still mulling over these things so forgive me if my thoughts are disconnected a bit.

One of the aspects of prayer, I believe is recognizing God is God and I am not. But how many times do we pray with the belief that I will bring what I want to God and He will give it to me, because that is what God does. I ask, He gives. Scripture even tells us to ask in Jesus’ name, or to ask and it will be given.

The thing i’ve come to learn though, is that when God doesn’t answer the way we think He should, we at times cease to believe in God or believe that He is good. Our belief of God is then contingent upon a particular answer to a particular prayer, and when He doesn’t ante up, we boot him. Therefore, making the individual the center and God is to placate to him/her.

The question is, Is God still God (good and faithful) even if He doesn’t answer my request in the way I think it should be answered, in the time it should be answered and the fashion I think it should be answered. I believe the answer to that question is a resounding Yes! He is.

I do not understand His ways. I can’t see the grander picture of design, development, maturity, growth, and beauty that He holds. I do not get to know the why, when it comes to the seeming lack of movement on His part to answer particular prayers. I wonder how many of my prayers are a cheap way out. Give me this, do this for me, make this happen... so I don’t have to feel pain, experience growth or be dependent upon something other than self.

Who God is, does not rise and fall on his answer to my prayers. Yet, somewhere through teaching, culture and other beliefs I have had to wrestle with that thought.

How do you engage the idea? Who is God in the midst of your unwanted thorns? Who do you believe Him to be?

How do we encourage one another when we don’t see the answers come?

As I walk alongside of friends new and old I desire to have wisdom in response to their “unanswered” prayers. And yet, to be honest I don’t know why God doesn’t answer the prayers in a way that would, I believe, be so freeing and bring healing. But one thing I do know... is that He does not cease to be God (with all of his attributes) just because He’s not followed through as I think would be best.

So with an ever expanding view of God, I am once again reminded that God is God and I am not!

Desperate for Love


Tonight I went to a movie. It was a foreign film about a man who was dead (not literally) and then something came alive inside of him and as he came alive and lived, he set another man free. At the end of the movie there was this one dead man, alive and alone. His consolation for living and loving was to be alone.

I drove home from the theatre contemplating the movie and its effect on me. As I drove I watched the people in the neighborhood gather together. It’s a neighborhood where people go to find community. It is a neighborhood where people go to belong. A sort of forced belonging. Somehow many individuals got tired of feeling out of place or quite frankly in many instances displaced that the individuals gathered together with others and formed a community where they could be a they rather than a him or a her.

My heart was heavy and broken over the stories of friends who have felt displaced at one point or another in life. My heart broke over the condition of our world where people walk around wondering if they’ll ever really be loved, for being, rather than for being something else.

I became overwhelmed with grief. Pictures of people ran through my mind. Students and friends who I love so dearly and who are living to find that place where they’ll no longer be alone.

I then got a picture of Jesus and an overwhelming feeling that he must have been a very lonely man. He knew love. He embodied love. We don’t have the faintest idea of what love is. Okay… we do at some level, but we sure don’t like to operate out of it.

Anyway… I suddenly knew grief.

Somehow in all of these random and disconnected stories, thoughts and memories I was struck. This world is dying for love, for intimacy, for belonging and Jesus was lonely because He has it and gave it and watched loved one after loved one after loved one turn away from this great and beautiful and pure love. Oh my goodness… when we’re told that greater love has no one than he who lays down his life for his friend, we just gloss it over and make it about the act of dying for someone. What about loving someone?

Love is powerful, dangerous, messy, and destructive. It is so powerful that it can change a person. It is dangerous because it opens the deeps trenches of our souls. It is messy because it is pure and pure authenticity drives a person through their mess. It is destructive because it tears down the walls of protection to get to our core and find us in our naked state and stays put. Love destroys the imaginary safety and comfort of a make believe freedom and replaces it with the real thing.

Love, is a great calling. What if we loved like Jesus? I mean really loved like Jesus…

I think we’re so afraid to be loved that the thought of actually loving seems impossible. Maybe it’s that we’ve tried to love and people rejected it. That is so painful. It is painful to offer love to a person and have them walk away from it.

Jesus lived with that pain. He grieved over people choosing a make believe truth instead of the true freedom which He alone had to offer. He grieved. He cried. He had to do something about it. He did.

I was given a picture of the grief of Jesus tonight. My heart ached. It ached in a way that made me fearful actually. I was afraid of the love inside of me. I yelled out to God, “please, please don’t make me love people so that I hurt every time someone turns from truth or walks away from you. Please don’t make me like the man in the movie who helped others find freedom, but he ended up in the pain of loneliness. Please don’t make me love so much that it hurts. Please don’t ever let me loose this feeling. Please don’t ever let me go back to a superficial love. Please don’t let me be a do gooder without love. Please don’t let me loose this….”

My cry turned from a fearful and overwhelming place to a place that knows that I have to do something with what I’ve been given. I have to. I want so badly for the world to know the great, powerful and life changing love I’ve experienced. I grieve when people choose otherwise. Why? Do I just want people to have a similar belief system? Not by any stretch of the imagination. A belief system will get you nowhere fast. But what if the love that I feel, that led me to know that I am valuable, that I have such great worth, that I hold the glory of God, that I am beautiful…. What if that love was there for the taking and I could just pass it on. What if? Really and truly, what if?

Love can change things. Love is enough. Not the kind of love that you speak of when you say you love pizza or meatloaf. But the kind of love that scares you because you’re naked and unashamed. The kind of love that sees straight through the hurt and sees the person inside who is just waiting to be freed. The kind of love that cries freedom. The kind of love that transforms. The kind of love that calls out truth. The kind of love that sees you just as you are and calls out your glory so that you can be made new. The kind of love that is contagious and makes people nervous. The kind of love that motivates a person to action. The kind of love that is so disturbing that you have to do something with it. The kind of love that makes you realize you’re not okay with out it. The kind of love that truly reveals your deepest need and says take me and I’ll fill that craving. OH my goodness… love is so much more than the heart on a t-shirt, the passing closing to a friend, or the way you end a conversation with your mom. LOVE real love is the most powerful force in the universe and it can cause a person to celebrate one person’s return from death to life. It can cause grief that is so deep when one sees the pain of another. It can cause a chain of events to unravel that will change the course of the world.

Love, real love… true love…. Like the love in a Princess Bride where true love could bring a person back from death… does really exist and it does bring life to dead places.

There is a great awakening in my spirit. There is a passion so big inside of me that I can’t keep silent. We do not love, because we do not know love. We go around being gracious to people, doing kind acts and being overall nice people and think we’re loving… perhaps we are.

But I know that to really truly love…. One has to know love. If one doesn’t know how to receive love, or is able to look at his/her self and say I am worth loving just as I am… then how can they really love another.

Oh that people would know that they’re loveable. Oh that people would see in the mirror the glorious creation they are. OH that the hearts of the world would break for people to experience the powerful, dangerous, life changing, love of Jesus. It is huge! It is scary. It is so big that every word picture that comes to mind seems to pale in comparison to the depth and height and width and length of the love of God for his people… for all people.

So here I type feverishly trying to capture in some way all that is going on inside of my breaking, grieving, hopeful, amazed, humbled, astonished and believing heart. I am trying to capture the essence of the moment so that maybe I can in some way spark a change in someone else. So that maybe someone else will go to bed knowing they’re loved by God… someone else will know the power of true love.

Maybe it is for me to remember that I’m loved with a love that destroyed the very lies and image of myself that I bought at an early age.

Maybe it is for me to know that I have a role to play in this world.

Maybe I’m feverishly writing with the hope that one person will read this, realize that they’ve said no to the truth and freedom of self that comes from allowing Jesus, who is feverishly in love with them, to love freely on them and destroy their perfectly fabricated world. And they will say no – no more

Maybe I just am passionate, because I know the hurt that comes from believing I’m not worth loving.

Maybe it’s because I felt the grief of watching someone love and be turned down.

Maybe it’s because I felt the grief of loving many persons and wanting things for them so badly and I’ve had to watch them time and time again believe something less than true, each time devastating my heart…. Because I love.

Maybe I write to remember.

Maybe I write because deep inside of me I know that what I’m writing is true. That when we sit alone with our thoughts and they go anywhere besides to the fact that we are the image of God in human form, with his glory fingerprinted on our very nature, with his love branded on our hearts… we’ve bought the lie of the one who seeks to kill, steal and destroy love. Who is the antithesis of love.

Maybe I write cause I have no other choice.

There is something inside of me so passionate that it hurts.


It’s bigger than valentines day.

It’s more powerful than a weapon of mass destruction.

It is more beautiful than a work of art.

It is at the core the very nature of God.

Who made us in his image and because of that… we have no choice but to be drawn to love

Oh Lord, help me know love. Help me to always love more. Help me to never forget today and the grief that accompanies love and the joy that accompanies love. May those two experiences compel me to love the world, to love the stranger, to love my friend, to love my family, to never stop encouraging people to love.

I could keep going. I could write about this for the rest of my life and all of the words I could use would not be able to adequately describe how very much I want the world to know, the individual to know, every man, woman and child to know that they are loved. And I want them, with passion, to accept it, and to say I’m worth loving and to be new because of it. May the grief I feel for those who choose not love be a vapor, because they’ve decided to fall into the love before them.

I don’t know if I’ve made any sense. I just know that my heart is about to burst. My life will be different from this point on. My message will be different. My ideals and my lifestyle and my mourning and my rejoicing and my truth and my fiction and my every breath will forever be changed….

Because of one word, I like to call love.

May you come to know it’s meaning, its author and its namesake.

Go therefore and love the world… lay down your life, your selfish desires, your unkind words, your hateful thoughts, your impatience, your disbelief, you indifference, your lies, your harm, your negativity, your pessimism, your own rights and love

Why? Because you’re worth it.

Why? Because you were first loved. You’re the very display of God’s glory. You’re capable of loving.

Go… change the world

You can you know….

Because Love changes