Thursday, September 29, 2011

Changing the World

"How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world." - Anne Frank

I want to be a world changer. 

Now that's a big dream. A dream that I once thought was unattainable, ridiculous, and, frankly, naive. I thought the whole "change the world" bit sounded like a beauty pageant Q&A line and would never be taken seriously. But I've come to realize that's so far from the truth. I can change the world, and so can you.

Changing the world happens one loving person at a time.
Changing the world doesn't take a superstar platform. It doesn't take a spouse. It doesn't take living in a city or having a million Facebook friends. It takes a single person deciding to act in love and compassion, deciding to show kindness instead of impatience. When many people (even in the Church) are proclaiming the world's going to hell in a hand basket, world changers are the ones giving hope for tomorrow, believing that Jesus came to restore and are actively being part of that restoration process.

Simply showing one individual generosity can change his/her world, and that's changing the world.

Let's change the world, friends.

What does being a "world changer" mean to you?

Thursday, July 14, 2011


You know the feeling of being in over your head?

Like you've taken on a project that you have no idea how to accomplish. Or you've planned your schedule too tightly and you're not sure you'll make all of your engagements. Or you've entered a relationship and you feel totally out of control.

Whether we inch into the deep end of the pool of life or cannonball from the ledge, it's inevitable that we occasionally find ourselves there.

I usually end up fighting the water. I'm not an excellent swimmer, so as the battle to keep my head above water rages, I tire. Quickly.

But what if I relaxed and floated? I know how to float. What if I worked with the water as oppose to fighting it?

That's my challenge for myself and for you. No matter what situation I find myself in, I want to float. I want to relax and not tire. I want to enjoy where I am and not be consumed with seeking control. I want live the adventure.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Hey friend! - I have a friend-assumption issue.

I spent some time back in good ol' Daviess County in Southern Indiana recently. Whenever I'm home, I like to make rounds and visit some of my favorite people and places. One of those places happens to be the newspaper office, where I held my first full-time job as a reporter. While there, I was told by Todd Lancaster, sports editor, that my blog needs to have some funny in it, not so much serious. Since Todd, one of the funniest people I know, was recently awarded a "Columnist of the Year" award, I thought perhaps I should heed his advice and try it; although, I'm not exact sure written humor is my thing.

I have a problem. Instantly after meeting an individual, I think he/she and I are friends. Even if I don't meet them, if I just read their name on a name tag in a restaurant or store, I remember it and think we're friends. I guess this problem shouldn't surprise me. When I was probably 8 or 9, I told my mom "Every stranger is just a friend you haven't met." (She makes fun of me for that all the time. lol.)

This problem has been the root of some awkward encounters in the past. The beginning of my senior year of college, I met this freshman girl. She told me all the intro facts: her name, where she's from, her major, her dorm, etc. I didn't see her again until the end of the school year, and, strangely, I remembered her name, where she was from, her major and her dorm. When I excitedly stopped her to ask how her first year in the criminal justice program was and if she was living in Morton Hall again the following year, she looked at me weirdly and said, "Good, and no" and walked away. She had no clue who I was.

Then it's always evident that what I perceived as a friendship was just an acquaintanceship when after a person pops into my head, I go to write on her Facebook wall only to find out she's unfriended me. That's happened many times. And every time, it makes me laugh.

And most recently, I was hit with this reality at Walmart. One night while paying for a few items, I had a friendly conversation with the cashier who thought she knew someone in my family. She told me she thought I went to her church and was an artsy photographer. Laughing, I said I'd like to be an artsy photographer and that I go to a different church. As if the friendly talk didn't seal the friendship, I thought for sure the church connection would. I read her name tag and said, "Bye, Heidi! Have a good night!" as I walked way. A few days later, while walking through one of the aisles, I saw Heidi, only this time she was shopping. I started to smile and say hi to her when she made eye contact and immediately looked away. And I realized yet again, she has no clue who I am.

I am absolutely not seeking pity. I actually think it's kind of funny. I'm sure Heidi has loads of conversations with customers every shift, and it's not her problem I have a friend-assumption issue. Basically, I'm coming clean about this with all of you today so you understand this: If I know your name, I think we're friends. :)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Learning from Moses

So Deuteronomy 34:7 says Moses was 120 years old when he died. Before God called him to any sort of action, Moses waited 40 years... in the wilderness... with a flock of sheep... wandering aimlessly. And then, boom! A burning bush and God sent him to deliver the Israelites from slavery.

I'm can only imagine what was going on in Moses' head those 480 months of wandering. I bet for awhile he fought off memories of killing the Egyptian (Ex. 2). Maybe he wondered if Pharaoh would ever find him or forget about what he'd done. Perhaps he thought he'd be a shepherd the rest of his life. I wonder if that bothered him or if he was satisfied with it. But I imagine every time he'd try to convince himself he was content, the image of the Egyptian beating the Hebrew would pop into his mind and anger at the injustices would ensue.

4 months. That's how long I've been waiting for direction. Nothing compared to Moses, granted, but I believe I've had some of the same feelings. In an attempt to reach contentment, I've found myself pressing towards nirvana - trying to remove my desires, tricking myself into wanting nothing (which I'm convinced isn't what God wants). Like Moses, I know things aren't as they should be. I've seen injustices done in various developing countries around the world. I've read blogs, watched videos, viewed photos of hurting, abused, neglected, hungry, thirsty, dying people nationally and internationally. I've been livid when it appears justice doesn't prevail. I've been broken when I read statistics of orphaned children. I've been down-right infuriated when I hear about human trafficking. Ahh! There's just an infinite amount of brokenness...

I see so much need in the world, and while I only have one life to offer, I want to give it. I want to act. I want to do something. I want to make a difference. I'm willing to travel the world, to sell everything I own, to -gasp- wear dresses or skirts every day if need be. But I find myself in Champaign, Ill.... in the middle of corn fields... in a college town... wearing the only pair of jeans I own every day... looking for a job...

If you've read any of my previous posts, you know I moved here to be part of a church plant, Confluence Church. And, I want to be clear, while I'm here, serving the Champaign-Urbana community with Confluence is my purpose. God is moving in this city, and it is a privilege to be serving Him in this capacity and partnering with Him in this work. Truly humbled.

I just know this is temporary. I don't know if it's temporary like Moses' time as a shepherd, the 40-years-type of temporary, or if it's temporary like 1-2 years, the you-don't-have-an-income-type of temporary. But I do know this: Even in the temporary, God meets me. Even in the waiting, He shows up. Even in the longing for more, this is enough.

Reading about Moses encourages me. I'll wait as long as I need to wait, and I'll know there is strategy and purpose in the wait and timing. (deep inhale, slow exhale -- this is not easy.)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Risky Business

risk /risk/

Noun: A situation involving exposure to danger
Verb: Expose (someone or something valued) to danger, harm, or loss

Words or phrases I think of when I hear "risk": action, adventure, scary, dangerous, against the norm, a lot on the line, scary, unknown outcome, scary...

I've always hated the fact that I'm not much of a risk taker. Risk takers are unique people. They believe in what they're risking for. They're willing to put it all on the line. They're actually doing. They're acting out of their beliefs, regardless of the outcome.

All the situations I can dream of people "risking" involve them doing something, taking some crazy action. Buying a company despite the opposition from others. Bungee jumping despite the minute chance of an accident. Taking a job despite having to relocate across the country. ...Those are what I think are risks.

But here's what hit me this morning: If risk, by definition, is "a situation involving exposure to danger" then perhaps is NOT acting sometimes a risk? Isn't it a risk to be offered a job then NOT take it? Isn't it a risk to see an opportunity and NOT pursue it?

Couldn't it be a risk to, dare I say, wait?

I'm in a waiting time of life. And while I don't usually want to do anything too risky, I do usually want to DO something. I want to make some kind of action. I hate sitting still. But I think right now, I need to take a risk and wait. Believe me, that's terrifying.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Waiting on the Mosaic

I wonder if the tile creators ever imagined this when they dreamed up the tile designs.

I bet they saw their tiles nicely and neatly laid in lobbies, bathrooms or patios.

Maybe they did dream they'd be displayed in public areas, like around a park fountain. But I doubt they pictured their creations broken into pieces and placed with other mismatched and broken tiles.

But just look at this incredible wall at Park Guell in Barcelona, Spain. It looks so perfect. (Admittedly, I love abstract art. I love that it can be whatever you want it to be. I love thinking about what the artist wanted viewers to see and feel.)

In early January, my typical restlessness was about to overtake me. The many, many dreams I'd horded were about to cause my heart to bust. Among several other crazy things, I'd wanted to live in about 5 major US cities and overseas somewhere all before age 30, so then at 30, I could marry and start a family. Feeling the pressure of time, I began to doubt my decision to join Confluence Church and my 2-year (minimum) commitment to the Champaign area.

I felt like God was asking me to name all of the desires and dreams I'd kept locked in my heart. It was as if my dreams were colorful, unique jars I'd been collecting, each so special to me, so important. As I named them, I lined them up on a counter, being so careful and intentional in their placement as I explained each dream's importance.

Right after they were all lined up and beautifully displayed, they went crashing to the floor, the concrete floor. My entire insides tightened. I looked over the edge of the counter and what I saw was astounding. This is all I could say:

My dreams are being dashed so beautifully that each and every sharp-edged, disproportioned, shattered piece is forming a breathtaking, mosaic work of art.

So that is where I am. My original plans were not bad, just as the tile creators tile dreams weren't bad. But I believe there is an Artist who wants to take my plans and make them into something far more beautiful that I can imagine. I will control my restless heart and wait to see how exactly these pieces flow together.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

In the fog

I've learned many things this past month. It's been steep walk on my faith journey. While the rocks seem to be moss-covered and slippery and the fog has nearly blocked all my vision, my ears have become more acute to the voice of my Leader. I hear Him more clearly and more often, and when I don't hear His words or see His pictures/images, I hear His breath and know I'm close. So peacefully and confidently I take my next step. One step at a time. One day at a time. I keep going.

There is one specific word that has resonated with my heart most and that I remind myself of every day. And I believe, friends, that this word is for you too. It's this:
God knows where you are. He sees where you are. He hears your prayers/cries/begs/shouts/yells. He knows your situation. And He cares. He loves you while you cry, while you shout, while you plead. He loves you right there.

He sees where you are. He sees where you started. And He sees where you're going. He sees the entire journey. And He's with you on the whole journey.
Take heart, friends. If you are following Jesus and are in a position where you feel purposeless and lost, where you feel overwhelmed and inadequate, where you feel the whiplash of the world's brokenness...if that's where you are, He is there. He sees you. He loves you. And He will see you through. His love prevails over life's circumstances.

If you stumbled onto this blog and are curious about the assurance this "God" offers, or maybe you have questions you don't think He could answer, or maybe you think I'm insane...regardless, if you feel like contacting me to talk about the questions you and I have regarding faith, email me. (You can find my email address on my profile page.) I love hard questions and have many of my own. I'd be honored to talk to you.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Some things are timeless.

I recently ran across a once very familiar notebook. I carried it with me everywhere my junior year of high school. It was what I’d now call my creative outlet, but that was before I embraced any sort of creativity; I was slightly embarrassed by my writing tendencies.

The notebook housed my poetry. The words that overflowed from my heart. Prayers to God.

So the other day when I found this notebook, I read through each piece of writing, letting my heart remember the words. It was like reconnecting with an old friend. The words I remembered; the climate of life when they were written, I’d forgotten.

I was inspired by my 17-year-old self. As I read through the prayers, I thought of how my life was then, the young woman was becoming. Then I thought of how my life is now, remembering various experiences I’ve had, people I’ve met, places I’ve been, the woman I’m still becoming.

So much in my life has changed, yet my prayers are still the same. Here is one of my poems:

Direct Me, God


Direct me, God

This is new ground

But You’ve been here, Jesus

It’s to You I’m bound

This is what I’m asking

This is what I pray

Show me, Lord

Where to go today

What to say

Who to meet

In a store

Or on the street

Direct me, God

This is new ground

But You’ve been here, Jesus

It’s to You I’m bound

Every breath goes to You

Every step to You

Wherever you choose

Win or lose

We’re in this together

Through all kinds of weather

Lead me wherever

Guide me forever

Direct me, God

This is new ground

But You’ve been here, Jesus

It’s to You I’m bound

You know what I can take

You know when I break

You won’t leave me stranded

I’m Yours, branded

Yours forever

Take me wherever

Show me Your way

For me today

Direct me, God

This is new ground

But You’ve been here, Jesus

It’s to You I’m bound