Posts tagged #community

you need only be still.

sometimes it's not enough to just rest your head on His chest. this past week, i've found myself beating my hands against His strength, allowing the frustration and hurt time to burn out completely. i'd say i'm in a bit of a transition. i've been broken, crushed, picked apart and stripped. there's nothing of me that exists whole. i'm good most days just to limp along, leaning on Him - trusting that He knows.

and He does.

He knows just how broken i am....

and He still finds me beautiful.

in fact, i'd wager that since last thursday, my beauty has only increased as His hand continues to push down and ravage my weakness. because it's only through crushing that we are made whole.

and i'm not meant to experience this alone. even though i want to - even though every part of me screams to retreat and hide. i was reminded of this on sunday. our pain has a deeper purpose than just our discomfort. and even though every inch of my soul wants to pull out my hair and plea for the hurt to end, i know His purpose is greater. i know now, clinging to Jesus while feeling the waves crash around me is so much greater than floating on perfect seas and relying on myself.

so today, i'm thankful for the community of friends who have rallied around me these past few days. i'm thankful for alece reminding me of my courage when my heart feels anything but fierce and the truth that Healing waits because He is faithful to complete that which He started in us. i'm thankful for prudence and the morning texts - the how are yous and the daily e-mails. i'm thankful for cards in the mail when i need them most and chats where i bare my soul. i'm thankful for jenny and erin - reminding me that no, i'm not crazy and yes, it's okay to be messy. i'm thankful for those who promise not only words of understanding but a shoulder to cry on and arms for rest. i'm thankful for ls - one who reminds me what it truly means to be a prayer warrior. i'm thankful for the hugs and the sent bible verses and the laughter over champagne and fried brie.

i'm thankful for my home - who loves me well despite my brokenness. the Lord knew what He was doing when He placed me with this man - because in the black of night when the stillness reverberates through the empty house, my love holds me as tears fall swift and painful. he is one of the few who fight for me - my valiant hero picking up his sword and going to battle when i can't fight for myself. my heart swells with gratitude that it's his hand i hold through this season.

and i'm thankful for my sisters: soul twins in every way, they come alongside me in the hardest moments, holding my hand and reminding me of our bond. phone conversations, believing in the beauty and speaking through muffled tears, christina and blanche pull me close and refuse to let me hide. even if the memories prove dark - even if the revelations include their own pain.

i'm learning the art of suffering well within community. i'm learning the strength it takes to stare at a screen and admit i'm not okay, that memories take their toll and healing comes slow and deliberate. and while those around me have taken to holding me up and helping me walk, i know it is He who heals my heart. the One who crushed me will be the One who repairs - and no matter how long the process, i will do my best to sit still and let the Master work. it is He who was there so many years ago, battling for me when no one else knew.

and it is He who is here now, taking the pieces of me with tears streaming down both our cheeks, who truly knows the pain i hold.

Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today You will never see again. The Lord will fight for you; you need only be still.  - Exodus 14:13-14

And me? I'm a mess. I'm nothing and have nothing: make something of me. You can do it; you've got what it takes - but God, don't put it off. - Psalm 40:17

Posted on January 18, 2011 .

a year ago, we were giants

A year ago today, Russ and I took part in The Rescue - the worldwide event Invisible Children created to bring awareness to children soldiers in n. Uganda. This is the post I wrote after the fact - once I had time to process everything that happened. To be honest, I'm still processing. Since then, we've fostered relationships with people across the world, been blessed by the generosity of our IC family, and been challenged by creating that sense of community where we live. A year ago, we were giants. May we never forget. ________________________________________________________________________

In those days, we finally chose to walk like giants & hold the world in arms grown strong with love & there may be many things we forget in the days to come, but this will not be one of them

- Brian Andreas

I came across this from a good friend of mine. The moment I read it something happened inside my heart. Something concrete & hopeful & dangerous. From that second – I promised myself whatever I did, I would do it remembering this story & those I have met along the way who hold the world in their arms of love. And I have forgotten a lot. I have failed to write my heart & my dreams down. Words & thoughts & hopes have gone with the wind, and I can only hope that unlike Hughes’ dream deferred, mine will return & not rot like a raisin in the sun.

However, there are moments where my dreams seem vibrant with color & so tactile I feel as though I can reach out & grab them. A couple weeks ago was one of those times.

I wish I could capture every magical moment of the rescue. I wish I could capture the beauty of pick up duck-duck goose games or midnight freeze tag or last minute taxi rides in the wee hours of the morning while walking the streets of Austin in search for George Lopez. I can only try & grasp with my weak vocabulary the severity of what joining together with thousands across the world did to my heart.

But I will try. Because I have to. Because I refuse to forget this moment.

I drove down to Austin on the 25th of April. I remember the weather. Sunny, almost brimming with anticipation — as if even the weather knew what was broiling in the minds of thousands of young people. We were many, but we had one hope. One goal. Abducting ourselves in solidarity with the child soldiers of n. Uganda & awaiting rescue from a mogul — be it politician or celebrity. We just needed a statement. Them standing in solidarity with us, who were standing in solidarity with the children. Because our rescue ultimately meant their eventual escape from a horrific life of terror. When I got to the Capitol, there were about twenty volunteers there, waiting & laughing & planning for the hundreds who would show. The abductees started the trek at 3 that afternoon in the blazing sun & showed up at the site after their mile and a half walk with flushed cheeks & wind whipped hair.

And they were smiling. All of them. A smile of hope.

Before long, the Capitol lawn was littered with sleeping bags, ice chests, guitars, footballs, pillows, scrap paper & new best friends. Within hours, boxes designated for letters to Senators were overflowing, proving wrong society’s perception of our “apathetic” generation. Apathetic we are not. Even in the face of rain and bitter disappointment

It started raining some time in the early morning hours. Walking from group to group, our voices growing hoarse and our hair growing damp, we shared inspirational stories to keep the momentum going for our impending rescue. We had a mogul. She had agreed to an offsite interview & we were going to see her making a statement for our movement at noon on Sunday. Excitement was building, people anxious for a shower & sleep worked out their jitters with dodgeball & red rover. Didn’t know the person next to you? No matter. They were your family simply because of the common bond. Instant friendship. Instant trust.

We got word around 11:45. Volunteers were called to a meeting at the VIP tent & walking towards the group I knew something was wrong. Long faces may not seem out of place after a night of no sleep – but this is a different crowd. No sleep? No problem. Double shot of espresso, good friends, good music, good laughs & good conversations pass the time & make you forget of exhaustion. Long faces don’t accompany the faces of my IC family very often. I walked up to the group timidly & began hearing bits of the conversation. It didn’t take me long to get the idea.

Our mogul wasn’t coming.

We weren’t rescued.

The promises we had given the camp the night before? The pleas to stay because it was gonna be worth it?

Meaningless.

But wait.

We looked at each other. Suddenly, the realization sank deep in our bones & we let it simmer in our souls for awhile.

This is why we were here.

The games were fun. The instant friendships were meaningful & would be a catalyst for life-long relationships & a taste for true community.

But we were not there for us. We were not there to play dodgeball or red rover or sing songs late at night by the light of a flashlight and the tune of the guitar.

We were there to stand in solidarity with the children who had hoped & hoped & hoped for rescue for over 23 years. We were there to understand what it was like to be promised something (like rescue) and be disappointed in the backfiring of the best laid plans. Because these kids? They’ve been promised peace five times. It’s no exaggeration when I say a whole generation has never known peace. I will say this again. In n. Uganda, a whole generation has never known peace. And we were losing heart with our mogul falling through? In Austin? No. We would not lose heart. We would stay. We would press on & keep the faith & not leave until we got someone.

It took another 24 hours.

On Monday, August 27, 2009, 48 hours after many had first stepped on the Capital lawn, we were rescued. Many were soaked – it had been raining off & on all evening & between dodging sprinklers, fighting sleep & staying strong, many were refusing to let up. A fire had been lit. And just like with any fire, it had onlookers. I don’t think I will ever forget the black suits watching us from inside the cushy offices – warm & dry – while we stood ground outside the Capitol steps dripping wet & taking turns in the dry air of Subway, Starbucks, or walking barefoot in the Capitol building for a moment’s reprieve from the rain. We truly were a force to be reckoned with, and they knew. We had been heard; we had been seen; and in the process, these children were not invisible anymore to those in Austin who could make a tangible plea in Congress on our behalf.

We were rescued on Monday, but other cities weren’t so lucky. I went home Monday night to my bed, others were still battling freezing rain & blistering sun & bitter disappointment. Russ didn’t come home for another four days.

And while those four days held about three other blog posts, know this: I learned something about my generation that week. My generation? We are a persistent bunch. We will not give up. We will not give in. And whether it be forcing trends on twitter to listen to us or demanding mogulus watchers to pay attention to this channel called invisible children or connecting people cross country to others whose hearts beat in the same way or sticking it out old school for the big O’ to come to the rescue, we will wait. Because there’s something else I noticed about our generation.

We believe in the absolute truth of hope. And in this hope lies the truth that impossibility doesn’t exist in our vocabulary. Our arms have been built with the persistence of love, and we will hold those hurting until others join the fight. We will walk together, knowing community exists when dreams are fostered, and to those around us we will seem as giants. And looking around, we will know this is true.

Posted on April 24, 2010 and filed under africa.

politics for ordinary radicals

We can start changing people's mindset. Instead of asking young people, "What are you going to do when you grow up?" ask them, "Who are you becoming?" The question is not whether you will be a doctor or a lawyer but what kind of doctor or lawyer you will be.These are every day miracles, the political lives of ordinary radicals. These are political and social and economic miracles. And miracles are different from marvels. Empires and corporations are good at marvels. Remember, in the desert Satan tempted Jesus to turn stones into bread to feed himself. But he refused. He refused to use his miraculous power to marvel people into the kingdom. He worked his miracles not to shock and awe or to feed his own mouth but to feed the masses. So we might not be able to turn water into wine, but if we can help the two billion people who are dying of thirst find water, that is a miracle. Then maybe Jesus will whisper to us on the day of judgment, "When I was thirsty, you gave me something to drink." And perhaps an even greater miracle than walking on water is walking on this war-torn earth for peace. -Shane Claiborne, Jesus for President

Very truly I tell you, all who have faith in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. John 14:12

Question: What kind of person will you be tomorrow? Next week? Next year? May we fight the temptation to clip the nails of the Lion and tame the faith built for radical living and extraordinary love. So tell me - how will YOU live this love?

Posted on March 30, 2010 .

the inner you

i am so excited to introduce you guys to my friend kelly. i met her on twitter - and there's never a moment where i don't feel encouraged because of her words and authenticity. her story? incredible. her struggle with self-image? parallel to my own. i encourage you to get to know her. go check out her blog. look her up on i-tunes. i promise you won't be disappointed.

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It’s Tuesday, March 2, 2010.  I am 33 years old, 5 foot 4 inches tall and I weigh 210 lbs.  I know this because I had to go to the doctor last Monday, and the nurse announced after writing “210, obese” on my chart “wow, you really hide your weight well.”  My first thought was to punch her.  My second thought was “really? Because I feel like my weight is an announcement to the world that I am a mess.”

This past Sunday, we had family drama, and my 7-year-old son walked in the room and laid cookies on the table in front of me.  Even at his age, he knows I eat when I’m upset.

I have been “overweight” since I was a child. I was put on my first diet at 11 years old. When I started driving, I would go through fast food restaurants, binge the whole way home and throw up when I got there. My Dad was a boxer, owned a gym, and hired a trainer to try to help me when I was 15 years old.

Last time I was at my parents’ house, I found a pair of pants I wore to a dance in 11th grade. I remember crying that night because the boys made fun of how fat I was. I looked at the tag in those pants. They were a size 8. I am now a size 16.

A few weeks ago, a person who loves me a lot told me I was codependent.  They recommended that I read a book called “Codependent No More”.  I freaked out. I am a Christian.  I love Jesus.  I lead worship and sing songs about God for a living.  I’ve been through DELIVERANCE.  I’m not supposed to worry or be anxious or need medication. RIGHT?

I bought the book and read these words: “A codependent person is one who has let another person’s behavior affect him or her, and who is OBSESSED with controlling that person’s behavior.” Um, hello mirror.  Codependent people neglect themselves because they are so busy controlling everyone around them, usually because of trauma and/or hurt.

I have had damaged relationships with my parents, my sister, my husband, and friends, and I have always blamed THEM.  But now, I’ve decided the skinny girl inside of me deserves a voice.  She deserves to be whole and well and healed.  I will be in counseling, going to Celebrate Recovery, talking more about what’s wrong with me and letting everyone else deal with their own problems.  Not because I don’t love them, but because it’s time to love ME.  It’s not selfish.  I can’t give anything from an empty well…or from a well that’s full of ice cream.

Jesus, in His loving kindness, knew when I was ready for this season.  My time is now.  I am praying anyone who reads this will prayerfully ask the Lord if it’s time for the person inside of you who died because of fear, rejection, pain, betrayal, abandonment, etc. to come to life again.

verge

Last week, Russ and I went to the Verge conference. It was unreal.  I've written some about our year - how it started off with a little more hurt than we anticipated. It's been evident - even in my ability to see through the tears - that my heart needs healing. That's what this past weekend was - healing. It's going to take awhile to process - I'm still not even sure I could put into words what happened Saturday afternoon during one of the most authentic and spontaneous moments of praise and prayer I have ever experienced. I know this, though: there's something stirring in my heart. I don't know what the result will be, but I know now after this weekend I don't want to be anywhere else - even if it means not knowing. Even if it means waiting. I'm sure as I continue to process, I will remember things that pierced my heart during the weekend. I think right now though, I'm just trying to chew on what's been left in my heart since Saturday. Communitas. The fellowship of his suffering. Yahweh, Elohim and my Jehovah Jireh. My Healer.

Check out this video Francis Chan showed us on Thursday night. It's a story he created when considering the church. I thought it was pretty spectacular.  

[vimeo 7152556]

If you went to Verge, what did you get out of it? How are you living life differently?

Posted on February 8, 2010 .