Thursday, August 21, 2014

Cross My Heart…

Part of the delay in posting here was that I had made a declaration several months ago about promising to post more often.  As days, weeks, months passed, it felt more difficult to post because I wasn’t keeping true to my word.

Source/Notes: The collected works of Aldous Huxley (1953 edition) 
But I’m letting go of that right now. I’m human. I say things with good intention and sometimes I don’t follow through.  That little voice always tells me, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” I have to balance that with “What is the intention?” Do I intend to post on this barely-read blog? or Do I intend on being gracious and loving toward humanity? One of those, I know you would agree, has a bigger weight to it than the other.  But to me, they tend to carry the same weight. It’s rooted in one of my strengths called Belief.  So it’s something that I’m working on.  (I seem to always be working on something….)
If I don’t find myself worthy of forgiveness, why should I forgive you?
So as I peck away at the keyboard this morning, I may not have anything really big to say, but in writing this, I’m offering myself forgiveness and finally taking it.  It’s one thing that I find extremely difficult to offer myself and honestly I’ve never been good at offering it to others either.  I guess it makes sense.  If I don’t find myself worthy of forgiveness, why should I forgive you?  But I’ve been consciously working on the forgiving others part - and I’ve found an enormous amount of freedom in that.  So it should only make sense that if I can forgive myself freedom would also follow.

"No blades, no bows, leave your weapons here."

What a revelation.  Sometimes something so simple is so incredibly hard to see when you can’t even bare to look at your own reflection.  I seek freedom from so many things in my life.  I have accumulated a mass weaponry to fight for that freedom.  My arsenal increases often.  I fight with a purpose.  Sometimes the battles are long and drawn out.  Blood is spilt, and close to death I’ve come.  I’ve even given up, dropped my weapons and fallen to my knees.  I’ve stayed broken and wounded for days, weeks, even years at a time.  But I fight.  I wipe the blood and sweat out of my eyes, I pick up the most peculiar weapon I have at my disposal and I stand.  I may not be able to win the war yet, but this battle, this battle, I will fight with every fiber of my being and eventually I will win. 

Jim Barton [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons
The army I have set against myself is large, as dense as an untouched forest.  But even in the densest forest the light peeks through in certain places.  And I know, I know, I know, there will come a day when I can look back and the only thing I see will be a stream of light beaming through that cleared path reminding me of my freedom.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Stuff Rules

Downsizing from a three bedroom house to a small one bedroom apartment is difficult.  Especially when "stuff" rules. 

I'd like to think I'm a pretty organized person.  I enjoy lists, plans, timelines, etc., but my dirty little secret, as it turns out, is that I'm addicted to stuff. 

I'm addicted to stuff.

I thoroughly enjoy finding purposes for items that they may not have been intended for.  I love finding a use for something that is completely odd and weird (kind of like me - see my post "Odd is Beautiful").  I'll turn that paper grocery bag into a serving dish, those boxes of film reels into a bedside table, and that empty vase flipped over and filled with funky pipe-cleaners as the base of a lamp.  "Oh, yeah, I'll take that bag/box of (insert useless items here).  I can do something with that."  Yep.  I'm that person.  Not always are the items useless, though.  My grandma gave me a huge bundle of vintage skinny belts and I have used them as bracelets (but how many bracelets does one need?) and even as belts (shocker).  I had every intention of making something out of the rest of them.  But as I remind myself, "The road to hell is paved with good intentions." 

So going through every box, bag, trunk, chest, shelf, drawer, cabinet, bin, purse, pocket, jewelry box, etc., adds another paver to that road, more paper to the recycle bin, more trash into the landfill and more stuff to the garage sale.

I have been struggling intensely with the idea of downsizing and getting rid of stuff.  My thought is always, "Maybe I'll need it later."  And I have always easily justified it as a way of being a good steward of what I am given and being responsible with money.  I tell myself that if may not need it now but if I do need it at some point then I don’t have to spend the money to buy it.  How could that be wrong? 
 "Maybe I'll need it later." 
Have you ever read the story about the guy who has this awesome land which produces such an abundant harvest that he tears down his tiny barns and builds huge ones to store it all?  He is keeping it all so that he has all he needs for several years and can sit back and just enjoy life.  Smart guy!  Except for the fact that he dies the next day.  I've read that story a hundred times - studied it and been taught about it and the lesson that is always shared about it is that the guy was stingy - he was all about himself - didn't share it with anyone, kept it for himself and died a selfish, selfish man.  Makes sense. 

But as I reread that story, I realized I was doing the exact same thing as that man did.  I was keeping things around so that I wouldn't have to worry about how I was going to be provided for later.  I was securing my future and masking it with stewardship and responsibility.  After all, couldn't one argue that the man was just being responsible for his future?  The lesson I learned is this:  I have given my life to Jesus and I say that I trust Him with every aspect of my life.  He has done miraculous things in my life, in the practical and the spiritual.  But in this thing I am telling God that He isn't enough for me.  That "stuff" still rules a part of my life.  Letting go and getting rid of things is a gesture of my faith in Him.  It's incredibly clear to me. 

  I was securing my future and masking it with stewardship and responsibility.

So I will trudge along, discarding piles and piles, and after that, discarding more piles and piles, dishes, furniture, cd's, clothes, jewelry, more furniture, and even more stuff. 

I want to trust God entirely.  I know I'm not alone when I say I lack faith.  And for me, this purging of stuff, is a test in faith.  To trust that God will take care of what I need, not what I may need and that memories are not wrapped up in things.  He graciously reminded me:  " does not consist in an abundance of possessions."  I want that life.

Friday, January 24, 2014

The truth is...

Because we want to change the world.

That is the honest answer to the question we have been asked numerous times within the last several weeks.  The question:  Why are you moving to California?

For whatever reason, that is not the answer I've (or we've) given.  We usually answer something like this:  "We miss it."  "We are ready for a new adventure."  Blah, blah, blah.

But honestly, the real answer is because every Sunday and Wednesday when we sit and watch the Mosaic live stream, we are crawling out of our skin with desire to be a part of that community.  Their goal is our goal:  To change the world by starting with changing the most influential city in the world - Los Angeles.  To show the beautiful people of that city who Jesus really is and how He can infiltrate an industry, many industries, a city, and the people He so deeply loves with love.  How we, as Christ-followers can thrive and be different, be full of His life and light in a city plagued with rejection, success, hopelessness, hopefulness, wealth and poverty, influence and affluence.  How loud love speaks through our words and actions and that we long to follow the greatest commandment of all:  Love one another. 

So, why is it so hard to give that answer?  Because it sounds insane.  Because one could argue that you can change the world from wherever you live and it doesn’t have to mean that you leave your awesome 3-bedroom-with-a-huge-yard-and-2-car-garage-incredibly-affordable-home, your entire family and some really awesome friends.  Of course that is totally plausible.  People do it everyday and God uses them incredible ways.  

But the only explanation to that longing, that aching, of being a part of a tribe that we feel so closely connected to is because that's where Jesus wants us to be.  That's the reason.  That's the explanation.  It doesn't mean we won't miss our incredible family that we love so much.  It doesn't mean we won't be questioning ourselves when we feel lonely without them, or crazy in our little place, or when tightening our belts so tight we are uncomfortable and maybe even a little miserable. 

We are ready for a new adventure.  There is truth in that.  We miss California.  There is truth to that too.  But we want to change the world, and for us, that means becoming a part of a community where we can do that.  No, they don't even know we're coming.  But God does.  And since He's the one in the midst, the one driving that community, we are sure He knows and is more than ready for us to get there.  We are pretty sure He's been waiting on us for a while. 

City of Angels, here we come.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

A Sometimes Blogger's Apology

A Sometimes Blogger's Apology

"I've been meaning to write.  Actually, I've written about 100 blog posts in my head since my last post. A couple have made it to the page, one is still sitting in draft mode here, forever to be unpublished… maybe.

I've neglected posting, but thought about it often.  And now, so much time has passed, I feel silly in asking you to "check out my blog".

But I will begin again.  I will promise to post more.  I will do my best in keeping that promise.  I will likely fail.  But thankfully, the few people that happen to read what I right will continue to do so.  (Isn't that what family and best friends are for?)

So here we are January 21, 2014, 9 months from my last post.  I'm sorry it's been so long.  Thanks for "checking out my blog".   I'll post more often, I promise."

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

This Song

I’m listening to this song - like an aroma that takes you back to an exact moment, this too, this song, takes me back to two exact moments. 

The first moment was actually the first time I heard this song. It was live. I was stunned and frozen. I was transported by the sounds, by the melody, by the words. I was taken, yet I couldn’t move. It was haunting.  

The second moment was when this song was replayed for a group of people we were newly connected with. We were asked to bring a song that was important to us at that moment in life. My husband picked the song. I wasn’t in a place to care to pick. 

The thing is that there was this underlying, silent devastating pain in both of those moments.  We were experiencing horrific betrayal, disappointment, hurt, pain. Pain. Pain. Pain. 
Yet, the song proclaims, “Love’s our only hope.”  

Both of those moments as foggy as they seemed to be, were each followed by a quick but powerful gust. The same night I heard that song for the first time, we were extended love and hope in a gesture by a struggling band offering us the cash they made from their merch sales that night. We were betrayed by people who were closer than family, yet this gesture showed us we still had real friends who really cared. To this day, I cannot comprehend how massive that was. How much love and hope they offered us, not in cash dollars, but in real kindness and love. 

And that second moment, with the people who asked us to bring in a song? They didn’t know us well, but they invited us in when we had been shut out. They gave us love and support and offered us a hope we thought could never be restored. They listened. They spoke massive words of wisdom to us. 

So my two exact moments perhaps are four. A counterbalance of pain and hope all wrapped up in this song. I needed to hear this song today. I needed to be reminded that Love is my only hope. My world is a bit of a tumultuous sea right now. I know I’m not the only one in a storm. I know we all must endure the weather. I am just glad I can be lifted off the waves, even if it is for a brief moment, in the memories of a song. 

Today I asked myself a question, asked myself a question
Why am I different from anyone else anyone else in the world?
'Cause if I can lie, then I can kill 
Am I willing to die for what is real?
‘Cause I’d like to think that there is a chance for change in this world 
And if I am the problem, what’s the solution? 
Can anybody tell me that? 

Yesterday, I said I’d make a difference, said I’d make a difference
But today I got lost in the shuffle, lost all the purpose I had
And if I don't try then do I really care?
Do I believe there’s something greater out there?
‘Cause I’d like to think that there is a chance for change in this world 
And if I am the problem then what’s the solution? 
Can anybody tell me that?

And if I can lie, then I can kill 
Am I willing to die for what is real?
‘Cause I’d like to think that there is a chance for change in this world
And if I am the problem, you’re the solution
Love’s our only hope
-Arkeo, “Love’s Our Only Hope”

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

RYFO (pronounced, rye - foe) Host Home (pronounced, cray - z)

We had quite an experience this weekend, one I had hoped for, but not out loud - just a secret wish.  You see, maybe a month ago I noticed a RYFO event posted on facebook - a "Dessert's On Us" or something or other.  I was intrigued and checked out the details.  It was to be in Orange County on February 1st Check it!
I followed the posts regarding this event, secretly hoping in some way it would work out that we would be able to go.  This would require a 12 hour drive, which for us, we've made a million times, so really that part was no big deal.  It would also require Greg to take a Saturday off.  This was a bigger deal since he has only been at his new job about 4 months and it seemed the last time he attempted to take a vacation day, there weren't enough available hours for him to do so.  We'd been toying with the idea of scheduling a routine surgery Greg had to have to coincide with a trip to California - as a sort of "recovery", but the surgery date ended up being late February. 

So as the last week of January began, I sadly shrugged off the idea of making it to this RYFO event.  But then, as if it was all planned out the whole time, God sent me an email and laid it all out.  

My email from God!

 Okay, that's not exactly how it went.  I just really, really want God to communicate with me like that.  I'll even take a real, paper letter via US Mail.  I realize the reality in which God "speaks" to us:  through His Word, through other people, through prayer, but as of late, I am pretty sure He doesn't use email.  (Not that He couldn't if He wanted to.  He can do anything, I know this, but....) I digress. 

Anyway, I received an email that put the wheels in motion for a trip to California.  Yes, we'd have to leave in three days, yes, Greg would have to get a day off, yes it would require expenses we hadn't budgeted for, but then again we were picking up a check we'd been waiting on for 5 months the day before we needed to leave.  So, yes, God worked it all out just for me, just so I could go to my little RYFO event.  Okay, He worked it out for a number of reasons, this I know was one of them.  But then I thought, "Is this event even for us?"  I asked (the RYFO President), Nick and he agreed to let us come.  Actually, he was super-awesome and was happy to have us.  I was so excited to be able to meet the people involved in this awesome thing we were also a part of.  To meet them face to face, hear what they had to say, to be able to buy a RYFO t-shirt and not pay for shipping...
A different brand of fan

The event was great!  We got to meet Nick & Emily, Simeon & Johanna, Audrey, Erika and a number of other great people, some musicians, some families, and Dr. Jeff the cool Chiropractor who is the only Pro Services guy on the RYFO map (that orange star in California).

A number of things stood out to me as we talked with people.  The most common response to meeting us was kind of an awe at being a host home.  It was an odd thing to hear people thank us for what we do and comment on how great they think it is.  It seemed kind of like what we do is some mystical service that most people can't do.  We were met with wide eyes or squinted eyes seemingly trying to understand or comprehend the host home experience.  We were able to offer some explanation of what it looks like when we get to host an artist.  That seemed to help.  But still, I realize for most people, that what we do is nuts.  And if it doesn't sound crazy to some, the impossibility of how keeps them from doing.

So, I'd like to share a few practical and completely impractical things we've learned being a RYFO host home over the last year:

We get to witness the water to wine and the feeding of the 5000 miracles every single time. 
            Living on a teeny-tiny budget, we shop, portion, and eat for 2 people.  We carefully watch our spending.  We took some hard hits over the last year and a half (as most people have) and had to watch our savings dwindle down, down, down.  We adjust what we can of course.  We are the cheapest, most frugal people in our family the world.
That Diet Coke was a gift! See, God loves us!
            When we receive a stay request, we plan for what meals we will need to prepare then we shop with faith.  We usually blow our food budget for 2 weeks for one stay.  But we love it.  We love that we can provide some healthy meals for these guys and girls who eat more Taco Bell and pizza in one tour than one should eat in a lifetime.  We love that we can send them off with a case of water, some sunflower seeds and a few other snacks for the road.  We love that when there is orange juice in the fridge it means that we had or are having company.  We love cooking up all the ground turkey in the freezer for one meal (which is portioned for 6 meals) and adding little potatoes to it to make it stretch and hopefully feed 10 of them with the possibility of also feeding the two of us.  We love thinking we couldn't possibly have made enough food, but then, miraculously we have some leftovers and everyone had enough.  Sometimes without having room for dessert!
            God multiplies it and makes it gourmet.
            Surprisingly enough, we never go without or are hungry even though we spent that food budget.  God provides every single time.

No one says anything about the bedding from 1980. 
Wake me up, before you go, go
            How we ended up with the sheets I remember from my childhood, I don't know - I guess Mom gets the new ones and we get what she's getting rid of.  Mind you, they are in good condition, it's just obvious from the patterns they are from the 80s.
            I am a little worried that the bands will come in and be a tad disappointed when they see they have to sleep on air mattresses, or one of two twin mattresses we have for guests or even the floor.  I wish they could walk in and see a king size bed for each fitted with down comforters and heavenly pillows in their own private room their own private bathroom, but that's just not what we've got.  We have been totally blessed with a 3 bedroom house.  We can split up the sleeping in our guest/music room and in the office (if Greg is not working), in the living room and even in the dining room (which actually doubles as our work out room -we've made it easy to move furniture around to give a lot of floor space).  And one bathroom is all we have for the guys/gals to share. 
            We've had 10 guys stay at one time and I can tell you that not once was there a complaint about the accommodations.  On the contrary.  We received more thanks and compliments from those 10 guys than you can imagine.  They live on the road.  They share a van for hours upon hours with each other.  They sleep in the van, eat in the van and "shower" in the van.  Our 80s bedding is of no concern to these artists.  Any space they are allowed to utilize, they do and are grateful.  They have been nothing but respectful.

You will never have enough if you think you need more.
Ding dong! It's Jesus!
            Yes, we have a three bedroom house with a driveway, a front yard, a backyard and a garage.  I do not tell you this to boast.  I see pictures of host homes that are more beautiful than ours, with swimming pools, woods for backyards, even separate quarters for quests.  I am not jealous - okay maybe sometimes, I am... but I will tell you this:  If we moved and we lived in a one bedroom apartment, our desire to host bands would not change.  And since that desire would not change, we would continue to offer our home as a refuge to these traveling artists.  They, of course, have the option to accept or decline.  I do know this though, that most of these guys and girls would rather sleep inside on the floor than in the van.  They would rather share one bathroom than have to visit the Walmart bathroom on the road after they've slept in the parking lot.  They are thrilled to sit in a quiet place with wifi that doesn't include McAnything.
             If we have a roof to offer, we will.  We will let other wonderful homes with amenities we don't have share their blessings.  Isn't that the beautiful thing about Christ's children?  That we are all different and that we all have different things to offer?  He has given each of us a desire to take care of those traveling artists.  I do not think it makes a difference how much we have to offer, but how we choose to use what we have. 
            If you're intrigued and want to become a host home, but are stuck on the logistics or just stuck, know this: There will never be the "right time" to become a host home - there is never a "once we are settled into a place with more room", a "once we have a steady enough income to provide for our family first", a "once we've gotten enough blankets, pillows, plates, forks, stuff, in the cabinets".  Those times may never come or they may come once you take that step of faith and use the servant's heart God put in you.
            We feel most alive when we serve Him, and for us, serving Him as a host home brings so much joy to us.  I think it may bring joy to the recipients of the stay, but even if we never hear about it, ultimately it is Christ who we are serving (loving) every single time that doorbell rings.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Journey Twenty-Twelve

Journey Twenty-Twelve

Yes, I do realize that 2012 isn't quite over and this post sounds like it would be more appropriate for an end-of-year reflection.  But the truth is, I embarked on a journey that I thought would only begin in 2012.  As it turns out, 2012 also marks the end. 

Isn't true that sometimes this is the way things work out?  That at the beginning of our journey, our dream, really, we cannot foresee or even fathom that it would end?  Sure, we have goals along the way that we may reach, even an end goal of what the epitome of our greatest dream and desire would be, but when you dream, does it have an end?  For me, this journey, this dream did not have an end. 

So what do you do when you literally see your dream, your journey end?  What if the end is ultimately out of your control?  Does it really end?  I think the answer is yes and no.

The journey, the dream as it was worked out, plotted and trekked may have been ended, but I figure I can make the decision to jump off of that dead end path and begin to clear a new one.  I can dream a new dream.  I can journey another journey.  It will look different.  Different people will accompany me on this new journey.  People like-minded and with similar goals will grab the plow, don the work gloves and go.  We will begin, on the hardened ground, to plow.  We will shed blood, sweat and tears.  We will put forth the effort for the hope of fulfilling our greatest dreams and desires.  We will get dirty, we will get tired, we will question ourselves and each other, we may even want to give up, but even knowing this, I want to go.  Even if that next journey ends, even if it ends by another's hand as this one did, I can't stop.

journey's end?

The end hurts.  Clearly, I'd be a fool to say it doesn't hurt - that my heart isn't broken.  The moments of hope come when I think I'll be able to move on. But as quickly as those moments come, the memory of the words that ended it jump back into my mind like a demented jack-in-the-box to torture me and suck me back into another's choice that I cannot change.  Hurt, disappointed, devastated.  Adjectives that haunt me.  Adjectives that bring me back to the past, the very distant past that conjure up feelings I thought were long gone.  Memories of hurtful words and actions that have been buried by time but longing to be freed from the grave.  

Just as the fool doesn't feel the pain or admit to it, I'd be a fool to remain in my hurt.  Pain is a close friend of mine.  He visits me often, and over the years I've allowed him to stay with me longer than I'd like to admit.  I've allowed him to move into my heart, settle in and stay for years at a time.  He's invited anger and bitterness to join him and I've welcomed them in as our companions.  We've included envy and jealousy, pride and hate to join us.  I know pain.  As easy as it is to let them all in and stay, it takes an army to make them get out.  An army and time.  

So, I've let God be my army.  He does, however, require us to do work and He does give us the option to allow pain and its friends back in.  God and time have been my greatest allies against pain.  Even when I've asked God to back off, He has allowed time to continue to heal me.  So, foolish, I will try not to be.  I am hurt.  I am heart-broken, but I have the ability to move in a new direction and I will.  I just need my army to surround my heart and begin rebuilding that fortress - and in case there is a breach, I always can depend on our ally, time.