The Crux of the matter is… The Heart

I’m just barely getting this in on time… its the last day of the month.  February almost went by without a post. UGH.  I feel like I should have done better, done more, and yet if I look back at what I have accomplished this month, its nothing to sneeze at.  In the last six weeks I have:

  • moved to a new town
  • set up house in my new apartment
  • started a new job
  • organized two fairly sizable events for said job
  • joined a weekly tweetchat to help organizations get social media exposure
  • agreed to be on the board for a new not-for-profit
  • found a local Jesus community
  • re-connected with old friends
  • started meeting new people… and
  • most recently I’ve started a new business endeavor with Pampered Chef.

Whew – ok, I’m not the slacker my inner “Do-More” tells me I am.

photo credit

So why do I still have that inner diatribe yelling at me?  What is it that isn’t satisfied? Because in all that busy-ness I wonder if I really am making a difference.  February is Heart-health awareness month – especially for women.  Fitting seeing as the middle of the month is Valentine’s Day and its practically decorated to the hilt with hearts.  And all of this leads to my introspection of my emotional heart health… Why do we do what we do?  What is this thing that drives us?  I believe it’s because we want to see a better world around us.

This shows up every week in the tweetchat.  We worked with an 11 year old girl who wanted to give soldiers a piece of home to show them that we appreciate their sacrifices.  Who knew it would blow up into a viral social media showdown, but her point was always the same.  To honor those who sacrifice for our freedom.  That’s the heart.

Health issues be it for women, those reconciling with scars from treatments, the late-term effects from cancer treatments, or Alzheimer’s and dementia are filling the twitter feed. Why do people care about it? Because it has impacted them and trying to help people either avoid unnecessary trauma (emotional, mental, or physical) is the goal.  To help and give support and encourage. That’s the heart.

Did you know that a real feminist is a wonderful person to be around?  She acknowledges the right of every woman to make her own choices – and we don’t all have to look the same.  Whether you choose to work or stay at home with your kids or to not have children at all.  We are not better than men, men are not better than women.  True equality is in acknowledge and celebrating differences rather than being defensive about them and tearing down others.  Why is this important? Because as the quote says, ‘Comparison is the thief of joy’.  And I believe that if that is true, then logically  acceptance of one’s identity in Christ is the source of joy. To know, believe in, and own your true identity.  That’s the heart.

Unless we truly know our heart behind all the things we “do” we will continue being redundant, and run in circles like the proverbial rodent in a wheel, always busy but never accomplishing anything.  A recent twitter follower, when questioned about why he chose to follow referred to my bio and said “I think it was the wanna be world changer – I think the world can be changed, but it takes focus”  And he’s right.  It DOES take focus, knowing the heart.

What is the heart behind your actions? I hope you take some time to know your heart today.

Not Fair!

“No fair! No fair! No fair!” my inner crimson-cheeked, tear-stained inner preschool wails and throws a fit. “This isn’t FAIR!”

And the truth is – it isn’t fair that plans get cancelled and dreams don’t always come true.  It’s not fair that I’m no longer planning a wedding, pinning my dreams on Pinterest, preparing for a marriage and family.  It’s not fair – but it is life.

Life is not fair as our mothers oft told us in our younger days.  It is not fair, balanced, and organized.  Rather, I believe instead, it is more like managed chaos with moments of crises and excitement thrown in just to keep it interesting.  So I can either choose to sulk and pout and pitch a fit about the unfairness of it all OR I can suck it up, put on my big girl pants, and look for the new opportunities that are in front of me now.

It is never too late to start over as my friends The Afters keep blaring in my earbuds.  Consequently I will – even at the old advanced mature age of 35. The possibilities before me are quite varied – and hard to believe – God trusts me to hear Him and choose.

SO – anyone want to hire a 35 year old administrative, organizational aspiring writer who likes to travel, enjoys new experiences, and wants to make a difference in the world?

Seriously – if you know of something, email me.  Thanks!

The landscape has changed

barren landscapeLife is a journey.

Have you ever been on a long road trip, taken a nap while another person was driving, and you were totally disoriented when you woke up because the landscape around you had changed and you were now in unfamiliar territory?

When this happens in life what do you do?  Suddenly, the future before you has changed.  You’re not sure what to do.  What had seemed a certainty is now gone, instead of a few possible choices, anything is a possibility. While choice is great, too many choices are overwhelming.

Having a game-plan doesn’t ensure success.

Personally, I’m the type who prefers to always have a game-plan, and usually with a few back-up plans just in case Plan A falls apart.  Unfortunately, sometimes my plans turn into an epic fail.  And even though I’ve said I’d rather take the risk to either succeed spectacularly or fail epically, its really no fun to feel like you’ve failed.  Success is always preferred.

Right now my heart hurts, my brain is on overload, and my emotions are all over the map.  How do I make sense of this? Where is God in all of this?  Did I miss something? Where did I go wrong? Is my judgement really that off? How could I have possibly messed this up so badly? Can I really trust myself again? These are the thoughts that plague me in the quietness of the night hours. Nothing makes sense to me anymore. Even listening to my iTunes can be dangerous if the wrong song plays in the shuffle.

What’s a girl to do?

“Be still and know that I am God.” Still.  Do I know how to be still?  Not very well.  In fact out culture pretty much shuns stillness.  Between books, internet and social media, television, movies, smartphones, and tablet devices we have an multitude variety of things to keep our minds and brains so entertained that we forget how to be still and just listen.  Sometimes we’re afraid of our own thoughts – but are those really what we need to be listening to?  I’ve heard it said that to get to true stillness we need to:

Quiet our actions so we can hear our voice

Quiet our voice so we can hear our thoughts

Quiet our thoughts so we can hear our breathing

Quiet our breathing so we can hear our heartbeat

Quiet our heartbeat so we can hear our soul

Quiet our soul so we can hear the Voice of God (paraphrased)

The landscape has changed.

So, here in this new place, which seems so barren, I’m allowing myself to be still. To be okay with being in the ‘in-between’.  And  while I’m being still and quiet He will heal me and then He will whisper to me which way I’m supposed to go.

I’m okay with that.

if its scary quote

the Whys among us

cassette age test

picture via Pinterest & TheChive

Do you realize just how quickly the world around us is changing?  It was brought to my attention as I was online and saw a picture of a cassette tape & a pen.  Do you know how those two things are related?  I do!  Too many episodes of spooling the tape back into the cassette for me… Yet, I’m pretty sure my younger brother has no idea.

Music formats are just the tip of the iceberg.  I can remember when the internet was new (I was in high school).  Now, we’re on the cutting edge of technology – The era of the ‘zettabyte’ is forecasted to be here in just three years according to this infographic.  Wow, how far and how fast we have come.

As the communications liaison (one of my several hats) for DOVE Africa, its my job to be ‘on top of’ this stuff.  Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Pinterest, Instagram, Buffer, HootSuite, the blogosphere… have all become part of my daily lexicon; all in the effort to stay connected to the world around me.  Yet I have to wonder, am I really engaging the world or am I just adding to the ‘noise’ around me?

“If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate.” I Cor 13:1 I realize that even in all I do, I must offer the truth of the love that compels me to action.  Its all about the “Why” of my story.

Why did I think that news article was important to share?  Why did I write that blogpost? Why is that picture worth posting?  When we connect in social media it should be about the reason for engaging, not just the content.  I’m called to be a thought leader and a witness to what I believe.

The world is changing and we must respond to that, yet we cannot sacrifice the truth of His unchanging message of grace and forgiveness on the altar of relevance.  Just like money is a tool used to expand the Kingdom of God, so too is social media.  It is simply a tool.  However, also like money let us not love social media for itself, or we may have paid too high a price.

Actions & Consequences

“For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.”

Many of us have heard this poem/nursery rhyme.  Like most nursery rhymes it was created to teach a lesson. Literary critics more profound than myself (well at least according to wikipedia) say this rhyme was probably written to teach children about logic and consequences.  Its an important lesson for kids to know that their actions will cause something else to happen.  As I used to tell my little brother, “positive actions = positive consequences, negative actions = negative consequences” – and yes, this was usually as I was talking to him after a time-out.

No one likes talking about negative consequences.  We truly desire to believe that everyone in the world is good at heart and will always act in the best interest of others, living everyday by the golden rule. REALITY CHECK, this is not Cinderella’s castle or Snow White’s enchanted forest.  People are not inherently good – in fact we’re told that “the heart is deceitful above all things and without cure”  So as much as you and I want to believe in the good, we need to be real.

Currently, we are experiencing a consequence to all the  negative events in the world – donor fatigue!  With so many disasters happening around the world – natural and man-made, and every charity filling the airwaves, billboards, and social media, its no wonder.  We’re overwhelmed at the enormity of the need.  We ask ourselves “How can the little bit that I give make a difference?”  We decide that our “little bit” can’t make a difference and leave it up to the celebrities and CEO’s who can write the six and seven-figure checks.

Yet, statistics tell us that it is those who earn less than $20,000 per year who give the most to charity (4.6%).  In fact, its proven that the more you earn the less likely you are to give your money away. Check out this article for all the details. The trend goes down the higher you go until you get above $100,000 when it gets back up to 3.1%.

How does this work?  Because when you put together all those “little bits”, it becomes a lot.  Just like a hand can’t tell a gallbladder, “I don’t need you” or a foot tell an elbow “you’re unnecessary”, we can’t write off each other.  Change happens when we all work together.  Look at the current events – why do you think that the “99%” on Wall Street are impacting others around the globe?  How else did the “Tea Party” become a de-facto sub-division of the Republican party in American Politics? By working together.

As a missionary I’d rather not have to “ask” for funding.  My friend and prayer missionary at IHOP, Randy Bohlender, agrees.  Yet ask we do, because it allows people like you to partner in the mission, to gain heavenly reward from an earthly action, and see lives changed.  So if you’d like to participate with me in changing nations, developing transformational leaders, and seeing people find a destiny – click on the “Donate” button on the right or send a check to DOVE Mission International “Kenya A” – 11 Tollgate Rd. Lititz, PA 17543.  And if you want to really make a difference, skip a couple of lattes a month and send the $10 monthly.

You CAN make a difference. You DO make a difference. “Because of supporters, the missionary stayed”

Change… again

Change is the essence of life; be willing to surrender who you are for what you could become – unknown

Why does inspiration hit at the late-night / early morning hours?  What is it about these hours between midnight and daylight that cause introspection and soul-searching?  Maybe its the tiredness that keeps the inhibitions to a minimum so that I can actually get out all the things that are deep inside.
I feel like I’m standing on a precipice – right there on the edge of the cliff.  Before me are lots of new opportunities and possibilities, behind me all the familiar things – the safe things.  Those comfortable roles that I’ve lived out for so long that call to me to stay here, stay with what you know.  The roles that everyone expects of me, remembering to use ‘my indoor voice.’  Yet within I’m tired and bored by the safe and familiar and I want to shout out loud when I want.  My old comfortable shoes make my feet hurt now, they don’t fit right anymore.  As I told my dad on the phone the other day, “the American dream holds nothing for me”.  To seek after that would be to settle for a beige life.   
Who really likes beige?  Its the color you choose when you want to sell the house and don’t want to have too much personality on the walls.  Its what you pick when you want to blend in and not stand out.  I am NOT beige, so I am refusing to settle for a beige life.  I find it rather fascinating when people find my life to be glamourous exotic compelling.  Yes it can make for interesting conversation over a meal or an occasional blogpost, but then what?  Perhaps my life is a bit more colorful than some, but I right now its only pastels and I want more.  
A friend posted on Facebook that she hates the unknown.  I don’t hate it, I like change, yet there is still this part of me that appreciates the security of the familiar. Jumping off the cliff is a scary prospect.  Will I fly or will I fall?  If I fall, who will be there to help pick up the mess?  If I fly, where will I end up and when will I land? How long can I just stand here with my indecision?  Can I live in the “in-between”? What happens if… There are too many questions to answer, do I have to answer them all or will they paralyze me?  Maybe just sometimes you have to just act – ready, fire, aim as it were.
Can I do that? Really, me? Life as I know it is about to change… again.


where to now?

Change is in the air. God is moving, and so am I – in more ways than one.

Some may know this, and some may not, but God has had me in a state of perpetual divine confusion since the summer of 2001. That was when I told Him, that no matter what (including my personal feelings), He came first. And my life has been crazy, wonderful, and full of change ever since. I’ve lived in 2 states, 10 homes, 3 countries, and 2 continents since then.
And I’m moving AGAIN – to a new part of Connecticut I’ve never lived in. But in moving there, I’m also preparing to go back overseas. Yep, God has stirred up my “itchy feet” and renewed my passion for seeing His Kingdom expanded to all cultures. I’m going to serve DCF-Africa in an administrative role supporting Ibrahim and Diane Omondi in their roles as the apostolic leaders.
I’m going to KENYA!!
I loved being there for my two week trip this past June/July, but I know I’m in for a lot more than I experienced then. But I felt just as “at home” there as I do here. I’m excited to know that I can serve God with my talents, and still feel like my life is making an impact globally.
DCF Africa is in a state of transformation, and it is a privilege to be a part of it. If you’d like to find out more about what’s going on in Kenya and the East Africa region, you can check out the DCF Africa website, or Springs of Africa, and there’s the info on transformation.
As I’ve said before, let’s embrace change – at least it keeps life interesting.