Wednesday, December 26, 2007
i'm a missionary in my own country.
called to the lost, the hurting, the ones who need Jesus.
the ones who need dinner or a cup of cold water.
the ones who need more than what the world has to offer.
the ones who simply want prayer.
i'm a missionary in my own country.
praying and working and studying.
loving and loving and loving again.
giving and hurting,
learning and growing,
weeping and laughing. . .
i'm a missionary in my own country.
married to Jesus - for richer or poorer,
in good times and in bad, 'til death can't even part.
i'm a missionary in my own country.
doing "right here" what i want to do "over there" somewhere
(and someday i will).
but today, i'm a missionary in my own country.
and i wouldn't have it any other way.
happy day after christmas everybody!
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
So where am I and what am I doing? Wow. Where do I start!? This summer, I joined TheCause USA (a non-profit ministry) on their God's Summer of Love Tour. After the tour's end, I was able to stay with my family (mom & sister, specifically) for two weeks of visiting, working, loving, and praying about what to do next. My decision at the end of August was clear: I was moving to Fort Mill, South Carolina to go on staff with TheCause. And, after many adventures, here I am. . . sitting at my desk in my little office (or cubby hole, whichever you prefer to call it) typing a little email.
I will now attempt to attach a few pictures from "the base" as we call our little gathering of office, prayer room/kitchen/common area, and cabins. More pictures will definitely follow, I just wanted to get back on the map.
Here is the cabin that i live in (decorated for fall!). Right now there are four girls living there, but we have room for six or seven living "Cause" style (you got it. . .crammed in like sardines.)
Enter our little cabin. Here's the view of the kitchen. Above you can see a peak into the loft area where I live. But no pictures of that today, because it's messy.
Here's the view from standing in my front door. Our little pond is quite low since we are in drought, but I'm still thankful for it. The ducks on the pond (hiding because of the picture) makes lots of noise and make me laugh.
This pic is taken from my front porch. Not ten steps away is the entrance to our big common building where we spend most of our time. (We being TheCause community at large.) This is the building we cook in for nighlty meals. We eat here and our little prayer room (where the bulk of the activity really happens) is also in this building. More pictures of the inside as soon as I take some.
And here's one cheesy picture of yours truly and my friend Matthew. I met Matthew this summer when he was on the prayer team that I led. We now lead a prayer set together (which is an awesome responsibility!) as well as work on the event planning team with two others. I'll have to write more about all of that later.
So this will conclude my entry for the day. Hope it gives you a little glimpse into where I am and what I'm doing. I'll definitely expand more later. But for now, please know I love you all and need your prayers!
Sunday, August 26, 2007
since july 15th in wichita, kansas i have been unplugged from the cyber world as we know it. i've missed a gazillion emails and one scheduled credit card payment, but other than that my unpluggedness has gone just fine. (the credit card people, by the way, really don't mind when you are 11 days late. they simply charge you an extra fee and call it "even". isn't that nice?) and the friend-people who don't get their mass e-mail update or their pithy comments (or their heartfelt blurbs via the internet) don't even charge for the long silences. at least not very much. it is true, some cmay harge extra hugs upon your return or punish by sullen faces and eeyore phone conversations, but most passionately embrace you when they finally see you or at least you can hear their happy grins over the telephone as you talk. don't you love that? when you can HEAR that someone is smiling? i think it's my favorite.
so now, i'm briefly plugged in. saying hello and i love you to all two of the folks who read this blog. i am alive and still in california. working here and there at odd jobs. i should get new tires on the car monday or tuesday and be on the road by thursday. it's a bit of a cross-your-fingers and say-lots-of-prayers scenario. i think i'm texas bound by the end of the week. and coming back will fill my heart with joy.
that is all i have to say!
Sunday, July 15, 2007
and the people i am meeting are gold. too numerous to mention in the short time i have, i hope to have some time to tell a story or two on these sweet friends who have become instant family.
just a little update before i go: last night our group joined up with an interdenominational gathering -- a candle light vigil held at one of the largest abortion clinics in the world. misnamed "Women's Health" clinic, George Tiller has overseen over 65,000 abortions. it is said that he has prided himself in performing late term abortions. many statistics were shared last night. some came with large banners & raised voices. our group only raised our voices for one thing -- to pray. i mentioned George's name so that you would know to pray for his salvation. that the love of Jesus Christ would so radically change his life that he would see the effects that his life work has had on families everywhere.
tomorrow the cause will hold what is called a "silent siege" in front of this abortion clinic. we will come in love. we will not speak. we will in fact, place red tape over our mouths with the word LIFE written on it. and we will stand. most likely we will kneel as well. our purpose is to make a statement without using words or bringing condemnation. we will pray for the love of God to envelope every doctor, nurse, worker, mother, father & child who would be involved in the process of an abortion. and we will stand for life.
it really is this simple. we will give our time to share the love of God and stand for justice. be in prayer for our group if you have a chance.
our worship will also continue. i'll try to bring a synopsis of that later as well. both tonight & tomorrow night we will worship & intercede from 7pm until midnight.
bless you my friends.
Saturday, July 14, 2007
what can i tell you quickly? the body of Christ is alive and well! we've had delays getting buses to us on time and most of us have been without luggage (or showers!) for 3 days. and somehow, there's no complaining. we seem to be experiencing a bit of the "hippie" culture that none of us expected.
last night we were greeted by Christians who lived outside of St. Louis, Missouri. They had donned tie-dyed shirts and were waving big banners to welcome us to one of their churches where they fed us grilled burgers & home made salads & goodies. the women (and some of the men) who were in our convoy - myself included - simply wept as we pulled into the parking lot. after such a long day of travelling & cleaning & even preparing meals on the fly the last few days, the welcome was so sweet. the love of Jesus was evident among the people gathered from different fellowships.
maybe it's true my friends. . . . all we need is love? :-)
Sunday, July 08, 2007
Today's the day. The day The Cause Tour begins. Yesterday was my birthday - a most memorable turning into this 3rd decade of living by spending the day at The Call where Christians from every walk of life cried out for God to bring revival to America. We did this in fasting & weeping, repentance & prayer, acts of worship including singing & dance. Thousands and thousands cried out together. And it was amazing. It was the beginning not the end.
Today is the day to prove (or shall I say "walk out"?) our deep, deep love for Jesus in action and my day will be spent just doing that. (May it be every day!) But for this season, I head out mostly into the unknown. I've put the blow dryer and high heels away, thanked the Lord with all sincerity for a wonderful shower in a home this morning and now I'm off to meet up with the community I'll be spending the summer with. I've been told that almost 200 will be joining The Cause Tour for the whole summer. Others will come and go and bring their piece to the work we have to do: worship & evangelism. Today we meet up at 2pm and will worship until 10pm - a good 8 hours will get us started. And the next few days we'll worship & pray some more & spend some specific time getting to know one another. This is all I know! (& that I'll be buying some more sunscreen today!)
If the Lord provides I'll share a story or two this summer on the blog, otherwise they'll have to wait for good cups of coffee & late nights with friends to retell. My heart is so full right now that the tears are coming easy. I am so thankful to be setting out on this adventure. 30 is definitely going to be the best year I've ever had!
All my love to my sweet friends who read this little blog.
Thursday, July 05, 2007
how do you stop your mind long enough to catch a thought and put it down for another to read?
the last few days have been a whirlwind. i am overwhelmed at God's provision and the amazing way he orders my steps. (this is the truth -- he orders each of our steps -- sometimes we just can't recognize it.)
yesterday morning i was unpacking my car from my various travels (camping/visiting friends over parts of Texas) to load almost all of my belongings into my storage unit. then, i re-packed the trunk chock-full of items i will need for the rest of my summer: tent, sleeping bag, pad, clothes, toiletries. . . the simple things. the non-perishable food items went in the cardboard box in the back seat and i was off. . .
the night of the 4th found me celebrating freedom -- not with fireworks & a barbecue but with friends and strangers at a special worship gathering called "The Burn" (more on that can be found at burn24-7.com) my sweet friend mary, her friend b.j. and i took our turning worshipping through the night from 10pm to midnight. it was so wonderful. new song after new song came out of our mouths and we sang of God's great love over & over & over & over again.
we made it to bed about 2 to wake up 4 hours later. we headed from fort worth to nashville today. 6 women together in 2 cars. it was a good trip. and now after the 12 hour journey, i find myself sitting in a stranger's home, getting a chance to reflect on the day & feel extremely overwhelmed at the blessing of having a beautiful place to stay tonight. some of mary's friends opened up their home to us -- complete strangers.
it's these simple things that overwhelm me most days. travelling with two 18 year olds that love Jesus deeply. having a great lunch on a covered patio in little rock. laughing a lot with my old & new friends. staying in a home with the most beautiful tiled tub i've ever seen. (this seems especially significant as i head into a summer of infrequent showers & no baths!)
tomorrow will be a day to rest. i have a few errands to run & we'll head to bed early so that we can wake early on the 7th for The Call. it will be that day that i also meet members of The Cause who i will spend the rest of the summer with. it's all happening right before my eyes! this great amazement & fear of the Lord is in my spirit. the Lord is so good -- i have nothing else to say.
Thursday, June 07, 2007
blake smith says that he believes everyone is a genius.
i think he's on to something.
inside EVERY person are ideas, longings, plans. . .
creativity, factual data. . .
the ABILITY to solve the world's problems, inspire, create, SHARE their genius.
how do i unlock the genius in me?
how do i unlock the genius in others?
everyone needs to know this!
i want this genius to be revealed. . . uncovered. . . FOUND!
(so my world has been rocked for a week or more milling this idea over & over in my head. i don't have the answers. i mean, i might have a few keys to the unlocking. but i feel the first freedom was found simply in pondering this idea. and now the test. . . let's all walk in to our creative destinies! genius, i say! YOU'RE A GENIUS!)
Thursday, May 31, 2007
What does that mean to me?
The LORD comes first. My relationship with Jesus Christ is paramount. Loving him, spending time with him is more important than anything else. Every action that I take should come out of my knowledge of who God is and how he would respond. (and I should respond like my Lord would respond to any situation.)
Relationships are significant. PEOPLE are significant. Not because of all that they have or lack, but because they are designed by God- the greatest resource on earth (& in many cases, the carriers of this Holy Spirit that I love so much). And I need to love them. Of significance: I experience Christ by living in community with others who believe that Jesus is Lord.
Everything else is peripheral at the moment. I'm just pressing in to try and understand what the world, as a whole, has given up on: God & meaningful interaction with other people.
This is key to the simple life. This is key to following Jesus.
And so I close this post knowing that I will soon write more. (& knowing that though I may not see my dear brother Miller Talbot for a good while, he did a good thing to say GET BACK TO WRITING. . . WE NEED TO HEAR WHAT YOU HAVE TO SAY.) I'll try to be more diligent to steal away little moments on borrowed computers until I get my very own!
Monday, March 26, 2007
After six glorious days with her family, she flew back to the state of the Lone Star where she enjoyed the most excellent of Mexican food and wonderful company before landing ever-so-un-daintily in her bed about 1 am Thursday morning.
A rousing day of work kept our young lady occupied into the mid hours of the evening. Not feeling very much like a banker, this maiden of our story found the flip flops in the trunk of her car and traded them for her 3.5 inch heels before rolling up her carefully creased and dry-cleaned charcoal pants and entering a movie theatre, to see the extremely poignant (and in every way graphic) film called 300 (popcorn and large coke in tow). Responsibility hit on the way home for just long enough for our fair-haired girl to do two loads of laundry before retiring (in contented exhaustion).
Friday morning found the leading lady of our story waking long before the sun rose (which isn't difficult considering our recent daylight savings switch) to ready herself for work - and most importantly - pack her weekend bag for a little road trip. Taking complete advantage of every minute of her hard-earned "Spring Break", she worked until 6:30 on Friday evening and then left immediately for Abilene - the place of an overwhelming number of God's most amazing #1 people and #2 sunsets. Her weekend was a blur of laughter, love, most excellent home-roasted coffee, challenging conversations, loving & encouraging prayers on her behalf, a joyous trip to the local thrift store, family meals, dreaming and all around life-giving conversations with the most beautiful people in the world (including candice, blake & andrew - in no particular order).
Driving home late Sunday evening was inevitable as the weekend was so full and a happy heart does not normally long for the rhythmn of daily life while experience the unique symphony of a "vacation". But alas, the time came to once again hit the pillow and wake up to a day of perservering faith, most decidely changed and renewed by the warm memories of family still in her memory and friends close to her heart.
or something like that.
(pictures are from large murals inside Disneyland where, much like Chuck E Cheese's, a kid can be a kid. and so can I.) Those are the highlights of my last week which make a much better commentary than March Madness in my trying-to-learn-to-be-humble opinion.
More pictures of my sweet family will follow! :-)
Friday, March 09, 2007
I want MORE. More joy, more love, more peace. More security, more hope. . . and some rest.
Wednesday evening was a memorable night in my life. By 7:45 I had finished a final in an 8-week intensive Accounting course that I was taking for the MBA program I am working on. In case you have considered taking an 8-week intensive Accounting course, I have a recommendation: don't. This class passed the scale of "difficult" and moved into "survival of the fittest". I felt like a lawyer- or doctor-in-training. And that has passed. And I am happy.
This weekend I am rewarding myself: no schoolwork & a nap. Ah. . . life's simple pleasures.
Friday, March 02, 2007
The fight? Yes, the fight against breast cancer. The race to find a cure and give back to the community by raising funds for breast cancer awareness, education, research, and even funds to help with screening for those who can not afford it. Jennifer and I participated in the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer 3-Day in Dallas-Fort Worth. We walked with 2700 others 60 miles over the course of 3 days. And boy, was it a trip! :-)
We enjoyed our fifteen minutes of fame when the picture to the right - taken by a 3-Day photographer- ended up on their website slide show. This is our "before" picture.
Many friends and family donated to the cause or helped support us by participating in our very own fundraiser (purchasing pink roses and flower arrangements that we had designed.) It was all quite a journey that I had hoped to spell out in great detail, but time keeps slipping away and it will be October of 2007 before I could get it all written down. So this little summary will have to suffice.
Walking 60 miles takes training. And even after training walks starting at 2 miles and working all the way up to 15 miles (in the 104 degree heat of Texas summers!), the walk was still a challenge. The greatest challenge was the chilling wind that hit us on our first day out. I developed "plantar fascitis" -- something I never had before. One of the athletic trainers taped me up on our lunch break and got me back to the walk. I was taped up again and again during the course of the 3 days. (Note the pic that Jennifer took saying we had to have proof of me standing in my favorite line. ha ha. very funny. Taping was my favorite past time. Slathering on the free goop for sore muscles was Jennifer's vice for the weekend.) Sports med people, doctors & chiropractors volunteered hours of time to keep our bodies going. Harley riders from every walk of life became our crossing guards and safety personnel. Bicyclists biked back and forth checking on the health of the participants. "Sweep" vans drove by honking all the way. Volunteers checked us in, served us supper, made us laugh or patted us on the back. And people cheered us on. When it felt like you couldn't take another step someone was there. Maybe a big group at a cheer station with banners and noisemakers and the whole nine yards. Or Jennifer's husband, Lance, who delivered hot lattes to us on Day 2 when we needed a caffeine rush to keep us going. Or maybe the single woman on Day 3 standing alone by her car, clapping and saying over and over again to the walkers as they passed, "Thank you for walking! Thank you for walking!" with her bald head being shaded by a hat and her t-shirt proclaiming, "CANCER SUCKS".
Here was one of our favorite volunteers, greeting us after Day 2, 40 miles:
Jennifer and I laughed and cried, got "stove up" (a phrase my sweet East-Texas farm friend taught me), had great conversation and stretches of quiet, waited in long lines for a hot shower and had late night talks in our tent that can NEVER be repeated.
One last note: if you ever want to go on a walk, I could be your walking buddy!
Here we are having walked through closing ceremonies. The journey was HARD, physically taxing our bodies and challenging us emotionally as well. But the pay off was sweet. In one weekend, we joined forces with men and women in our area to raise $6.1 million to help in the fight against breast cancer. The sore muscles and blisters are just a memory now. And Jennifer and I are contemplating doing it all again. ?!
So my not-so-grand entry is now complete. I'll check it off my list and move on to some other "grand" plan. (And try to share it with you in a more timely fashion next time!)
Thursday, March 01, 2007
From my inbox today are two special notes: Alisa (who grew up in New Mexico, became most treasured of roommates in college, and currently hails from Mexico where she lives with some great man that I have never met.) Most days Alisa encourages us all to think and notice what beauty surrounds us. Today she encouraged our little email circle that there are opportunities to give to charities that support the politically oppressed. Want more details? Check out http://alisacooper.typepad.com/through_the_looking_glass/2007/02/network_for_goo.html
And one other treasure that arrived in my inbox. A re- introduction to an old college friend named Max. He was beloved by my circle of girlfriends back in the day. Now he is husband, preacher, counselor, and up & coming filmmaker all from the great state of New York. Check out this recent short film if you have a stomach for scary movies. (You have been warned.) http://films.thelot.com/films/8363
That is all for this short entry of todays edition of "friends new and old who are wonderful". Promise to right more in March than I did in February!
Tuesday, February 06, 2007
Somehow, I was given this most wonderful treasure:
I know the most beautiful people. And they call me "friend".
Amazing. Gifted. Entertaining. Intellectual. Gifted. Convicting. Well-read or well-traveled. Engaging. Hilarious. Gorgeous. Strong. Admirable. THESE ARE MY FRIENDS! And I love them. And I am thankful. And my heart is filled with inexpressible respect and gratitude when I think of them each by name with their own unique presence. To be with my friends makes me rich. Richer then owning land or a Lexus. To visit with friends gives me joy and gives me Jesus in a way I can receive and be filled and even rest in their midst.
Beautiful, I tell you. No other word can describe. . .
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
work wasn't that great. (did i already get that point across?) so "not great", in fact that i had to pray a lot. and keep my mouth shut so that i didn't say anything i would regret. and the only thing i regretted was being one of those socially responsible people who holds their tongue instead of one of those people who just says their mind, spouts off, gets enraged and then apologizes for it later. (okay, i know it's not wise, but it would feel so good to do it every once in a while.)
so i can't even tell you what evils transpired at work, but i just wanted to face the reality that sometimes i think some pretty nasty things. even though i don't say them (i mean, most of the time i don't say them. . .), they still fester and stew and become ugly thoughts. which make me aware of my ugliness. and my great need for patience. peace. perserverance. JESUS.
all this blankety blank mess will pass. i just wanted to struggle with the reality of the situation. and my deep need to change. and the fact that this is real life. feathers get ruffled. problems happen. anger is a real emotion -- even a valid one under certain circumstances. and it's just plain therapeutic to get it off my chest. now all i need is a hug. . .
Wednesday, January 03, 2007
I write all of this for a few reasons: #1 I'm quite overdue in telling the story. #2 I didn't die. #3 I see life differently now and just wanted to take the chance to say it. It has made THIS Christmas and THIS New Year's very special for me. Just because I can REMEMBER them. And that is a sweet blessing.
I'm copying the testimony that I read at my Mom (& sister's) church while visiting last week - exactly one year to date from being admitted into the hospital. Please read, if you have a moment. If not, you just need to know one thing: GOD IS MIGHTY TO SAVE.
12-24-06 Conejo Valley Church -- Thousand Oaks, CA
Thank you for letting me take a few minutes of your time this morning. I don’t often get to be here as I now live in Texas (and can count on one hand the number of times I’ve stood before this congregation!), but I asked Andy (note: he's the pastoral minister at the church) if I could share just a bit with y’all. My original plan was to share with you the very memorable Christmas and holiday season I had last year. And then a thought occurred to me. I have no memory of Christmas last year. I was unconscious and struggling for life. And THAT is why I stand before you this morning. Today, I am VERY conscious and blessed with health and I need to testify to the goodness of God in all of these matters.
There are, in fact, about three weeks of time that I cannot recollect. This time started very late in the evening on Christmas Eve and extended into the middle of January. The vague memories I have of my time in the hospital are foggy at best. The things I can remember from the whole experience and the time spent in ICU, I’d rather forget. I’ve considered many times this lack of memory is probably another blessing from the Lord. What I cannot remember, my family could share with you in great detail. They lived through the experience with no hope given them from the medical staff. Their only hope was that the Lord would save me. And that He did.
Over a year’s time I still have not mastered words that can declare my thankfulness to the Lord. During this season when we focus so much on GIVING, my mind keeps coming back to SAVING. 22 years ago, I decided to follow Jesus and put my faith in Him. Later, I was baptized right outside this window. I can look back at those moments as my “salvation”. And then there are moments -- life experiences -- where I see the mercy of the Lord. I owe Him my very life because He saved it from death. This is spiritual. This is physical. His salvation is COMPLETE. There is a scripture from the Old Testament that I have shared with folks throughout the years, especially when wanting to get the message of the gospel to someone in short form. Even people who have not put their faith in Jesus will listen for a moment as I share this brief scripture from Psalm 103:
“Bless the Lord, oh my soul, and all that is within bless His holy name. Praise the Lord, oh my soul and forget not all his benefits (or forget not all his goodness in some translations.) Who forgives all of my sins and who heals all my diseases. Who redeems my life from the pit. . . and crowns me with love. . .and crowns me with grace. . . and I’m satisfied. “
What else can I say? Bless the Lord, oh my soul. And all of you, his people – praise His holy name! At this special time of year, remember what the Lord has done. The Lord has been mighty to save as only He has the power to do.
There is so much more to say, but I must end there tonight. I owe my life to Jesus in every way that is possible. And my words fail to articulate the way he has touched me. Out in the wilderness of West Texas on New Year's Day, there was only one thing that I needed to shout as loud as I could: "Hallelujah!" That's it. Praise the Lord. Everything else may be "falling apart", but the Lord has been faithful to me. And healed me. And "saved" me. And given me another day to live. And that is good. And HE is good.