Twoo Wuv?

image credit: rankopedia.com

Just what does it mean to truly love someone? Many may say its ‘preferring the needs of the other person over yourself’. Being in a new relationship we’re beginning to learn the delicate steps of the dance. “Where do you want to go?” He steps forward.  “I don’t know, what do you like?” I step back. “Which style of music do you prefer?” He turns to the right. “My tastes are eclectic, though lyrics are important, so I like to be able to understand the words.” I follow through the spin.

Inevitably we will stumble.  Someone’s toes will get stepped on, misunderstood cues will lead to us going in different directions.  How do you solve the problem?  Do you give up on the dance and find another partner, or do you come back to center, where it makes sense and begin again – offering grace, each honestly owning up to their mistakes, and then laughing together at the awkwardness.

I read the following in a friend’s Facebook status recently, and have pondered it since:

“Preferring one another is more than yielding your opinion to another. Use your platform to bring honor, dignity, and promotion to others even at the risk of seeing them surpass your influence with those around you”

If I use this as my compass for preferring my significant other, what does that look like?  He offers me networking contacts to help me in my job;  I bring him coffee and sing his praises to his boss.  I get to church early to help him with setting up the sound equipment; he introduces me to a whole new church family and expands my personal territory for ministry opportunities. This all makes sense and can initially seem easy for romantic relationships, but what does it mean outside of that sphere?  How do I truly love and prefer my friends, co-workers, and acquaintances. What about the guy on the corner holding the cardboard sign?  What does it look like to really prefer them?

Our society so loudly proclaims “Its all about you.” “Do it your way.” And it is SO easy to fall into the trap, to become self-aware and absorbed into vainglory and personal achievement.  I ask myself, what society do I really belong to?  Is it this culture or the Kingdom of God? “A humble and contrite heart He will not despise.” vs. Look out for numero uno.  “Turn the other cheek.” vs. Stand up for your rights. “Be the servant of all.” vs. Serve yourself.

“Wuv. Twoo wuv.” As Wesley always told Buttercup when she asked for something “As you wish…” even to throwing himself tumbling bottom over top down the hill, we need to learn how to truly love our God, our families, and our friends.  And even more importantly the marginalized, the out cast, and the broken.  When we can offer a hand up instead of pitying handouts and use our influence and platforms to propel them into something greater, I think we will begin to glimpse a measure of what Kingdom living and purpose is really supposed to be, to experiencing true love.

New Year… New life

I’ve been silent dear readers.  Why? I’ve been finding my new life.  Truly.  I moved back to North America from Africa in October.  Spent a month in Toronto with family helping with my late grandmother’s estate, then moved into Mom & Dad’s in November to contemplate what my life would look like since the big change in August.  Well, the waiting is over – here are some details of my new life…

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My sunny spot

New Home – a sweet and cozy little one bedroom apartment in a sleepy South-Central Massachusetts hamlet.  I’m trying to find where everything belongs and in the mean-time I’m living with the boxes…

New Job – I’m refocusing my organizational passions in the medium of radio.  I’m the Office Manager for The Q 90.1 FM.  We went on the air in early December 2012, and I came on board in mid-January.  I’m excited about the possibilities of sharing a message of hope in this region.  I still get to use all my knowledge of social media, organization, and meeting and sharing life with people.

New Life – so with a new home and a new job, is this really a new life?  Not exactly.  You see, with all the things that have changed me over the last couple of years, it is now the intention to have a renewed focus on being true to my God-given identity.  What is that?  As I put on my instagram bio “Girl. Jesus-follower. Wanna-be world changer”

You see, we are created by God with a destiny.  Not only that, but we are given the passion to pursue His purpose for us if we will be honest with ourselves and connect with our Creator.  If I’ve learned anything from the grief process, it’s that in the end, it’s not the things (new home) or paycheck (new job) which give merit to our lives, for in reality our physical selves will decay and become dust.

What truly matters is the impact we make on people.  The lives that have influenced us, the hearts we have loved, the souls that we touch as each of us passionately pursue our divine purpose

Jail break!

unleash bannerI’ve written before about my desire to live ‘out loud’ and my refusal to have a ‘beige life’. (If you’re new to the blog, you can read that here, and here).  And those of you who follow me on Facebook and Twitter have probably seen my recent posts about Perry Noble’s new book “Unleash!” I have to say, I really love that the subtitle is ‘Breaking Free from Normalcy” – because as we all know, as the sage of Americana Erma Bombeck said “Normal is just a setting on the dryer”.

I’m a huge reader, and I like to mark-up my books so I can go back to those passages that stood out to me. Thus, my e-book is now full of highlighted passages like

“The unleashing of our lives begins when we refuse to believe it’s too late for us, when we reject the idea that we’re too damaged for God to do anything with, when we stop being obsessed with ourselves… “Who is the Lord, and what does He want to do through me?”*

and “Believing that lie held me hostage to what can be one of the most damaging enemies of the unleashed life: religion… In doing so, I ceased to live for the things that really matter to God and began to hyper-focus on the things that mattered to me!”*

My high school English teachers were big on instructing us to find themes in books. In reading through Unleash!, there was a theme that kept resounding like an unrelenting klaxon – we live in the prisons of our own making yet Christ came to set us free.  The door isopen cell door unlocked, we just have to try the handle and walk out!   WHY do we stay inside, peering through the window, feeling left out, alone and abandoned, resigned to the vanilla-ness of it all?  Now don’t get me wrong, I love vanilla, but I like it best when its dressed up a bit with some chocolate! We accept the bland, boring and banality of a less-than life, when God promises us abundance, a veritable hot-fudge banana split.  Why do we keep pushing it away?

Perry points out several reasons. The performance trap, trauma and tragedy from our past, unforgiveness, and our passivity to take the next step caused by both fear and disobedience.  Written like that, it can seem like the usual trite religious tirade of “Try harder, do more”.  However, I agree with Perry that though we can point out these issues, we cannot handle them on our own and its impossible to gain victory in any of these areas until we learn the limitless unleashing grace of God.

“God wants good things for you. That’s what He wants for all His children. He wants us to experience the life, joy, and peace found in Christ— everything that comes with living an unleashed life.”* 

I’ve got more reading and thinking to do. Between Unleash! and the Bonhoeffer biography, my head is swimming with things that are challenging my status quo. That’s a good thing, because that’ll help keep things interesting.  I don’t want to stay inside when all I have to do is just turn the knob.**

*All noted passages from Noble, Perry (2012-09-20). Unleash! Tyndale House Publishers. Kindle Edition. Want your own copy? Go to unleashbook.com/buy

**for a fun illustration about just opening the door, you can listen to Pastor Craig Groeshel’s message “Soul Detox part 2” on the Elevation Church podcast

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!

Counting the Cost

The Daily Nation, is a local paper here.  I subscribe to their mobile service so that I get text messages of late-breaking news.  Usually headlines are of corruption in government, or yet another fatal traffic accident.  However, yesterday

morning during church service a message came that made me stop and think…

altar at Nairobi church attack

“ ONE WORSHIPER (sic) dead, ten others seriously injured in a grenade attack at God House of Miracle Church in Nairobi, Ngara area.” read more

The attack was credited to Al Shabaab, the Somali branch of Al Qaeda.  I know last week the American Embassy put out an alert that there was an increased danger and for Americans to be alert about their personal safety.  And yes, I appreciate the comments from several of you on that issue.

Foreign-field missionaries often talk about “counting the cost” and there are many – leaving family, the sacrifices of living in a country that is not your own, etc.  Yet, this brings things to a whole new level.  I remember just before leaving the USA having to make sure that I had all the legal paperwork in place.  At the somewhat  tender age of 34 (depends on your perspective) I’m having to contemplate my death.

Am I ready to face that?  Am I really in a place that I can say, “If I die tomorrow, I’ll be happy with the legacy I’ve left? Have I made an impact for His Kingdom instead of my own ambitions?”

So many questions that have no good answers.  All I know is this; Jesus has called me and His call is this: “Take up your cross and follow me.” *  Being a disciple of Christ is not for the faint of heart, for we are told unless we are willing to give up everything we cannot be called His disciples. Luke 14:26-33

Then why do it?  Because the eternal is greater than the temporal.  What is gained is impossible to measure against what is lost.  We are made for the eternal and this life is but a brief dot at the beginning.  I choose to invest in the eternal where I will spend the majority of my life, rather than making sure I’m comfortable in this short time I will be on the earth.  St. Paul puts it this way “The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God…”

Looking death in the face is not fun, but I have the hope of eternity with Him.  My goal is to “…have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by Life or by death.  For to me to live is Christ and to die is gain.Philippians 1:20-21

*Matthew 16:24-27, Mark 8:34-38, Luke 9:23-26

Home for the holidays – or being grateful for highspeed internet

So I’m in the US ‘til sometime in January. And yes, praise the interwebs, there is high-speed internet everywhere, well except in the car. Though if you include web on the phone, its even there. Yet I have not been blogging… why? Well as my social media guru friends have told me, sometimes you just have to really participate in life, not just report on it. So there you have it – I have been participating in life.

There’s been flights from Nairobi to New York and meeting new friends from Australia along the way. Surprise attendance at Lighthouse my first Saturday back, and enjoying everyone doing double-takes at my appearance. A road-trip to see family for Thanksgiving with lots of hugs, great conversations, and too much food.

And now I find myself sitting in a coffee shop in Lancaster, PA. After meetings at the office, I have free time to sit and ponder why I’m here at this time. I didn’t expect to be here now, my plans had me in Nairobi until March. Yet circumstances conspired to bring me home early. A big reason is fundraising.

Its time to think outside of the box… if traditional missionary fund-raising isn’t working, what will? How do I make up the deficit of $700 per month? I don’t know – feel free to message me with ideas if you’ve got ‘em. Living internationally presents some interesting challenges that I wouldn’t have in the USA. I can’t just go out and get a job at McD’s in Nairobi (there is no McD in Nairobi) or at the local grocery store, or temp in an office at last minute notice.

So I’m here in the US without a return ticket to Nairobi, yet that’s what I want to do more than anything. Go back to my friends, church, community and job in sunny warm Nairobi. To be able to tweet about visiting slums, distributing food to famine victims, and helping people start small business to change their communities.

Feel free to hit the “donate” button over on the right if you want to be part of the process or click on the about page for more details on how to partner.

Being grateful

Its raining again, I could complain about the mud, cold and inconvenience caused by the rain, but I won’t.  Instead I will be grateful and pray that it rains in areas other than Nairobi so that there will be abundant food crops and water to drink.

I’ve lost weight.  Instead of complaining about the fact that my clothes are too big, or that I have to deal with the hassle of taking them to the tailor to be reduced, I will appreciate the fact that I can afford to do it, and that I have clothes.

water bottle sandals

photo courtesy of Facebook

Take a look at social media and you’ll find many people counting down the days, or using the alphabet to share what they are thankful for.  Here in Kenya, there are reminders each and every time I walk out of my door. God’s grace and mercy have placed me where I can feast in the midst of famine, water in the wasteland, plenty amongst poverty.

Yes, we Americans take one day in November to remember to give thanks for the abundant blessings in our lives and this is good.  Yet in the midst of the feast on your table remember not everyone can enjoy what you do.  The news is reporting stories of people in New England still without power because of the early snow, one lady even saying she felt “abandoned.”  I’ll admit I didn’t have a lot of sympathy for her, in fact my reaction was to comment “Stop being selfish & make your life about others.”

Those that are in lack are not just here in Kenya or Africa.  A friend posted a blog about comparing the lines for a homeless shelter vs. a gourmet donut shop.  So this November and the coming holiday season can I encourage you to make your life about others?  You can give your cash – that’s sometimes easier, but I encourage you to give of your time and talent too.  Because just maybe, those that seem to have nothing will give something back to you.