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Solitude.

Community.

Ministry.

Henri Nouwen, Paul, and Jesus all exemplified that to be spiritually disciplined these three things were needed, in this order.

I personally really struggle with solitude. I bad at it. And I have to get better at it. Because to be able to do offer community and do ministry I first need to be filled by God alone and spend time in silence with Him.

We read (as a staff) Henri Nouwen’s article “Moving from Solitude to Community to Ministry” that discusses the importance of these three concepts and how they interplay into each other. The article refers to Luke 6:12-19 and how Jesus took time in solitude before gathering His disciples in community and then going out and beginning in His ministry. The very next week I was reading in Galations about how Paul took time to be alone before gathering Titus and Barnabas to continue on in ministry.

I have been challenged to spend time in solitude. And right now it’s way hard! But I know it will be worth it and to create the spiritual discpiline of waiting in solitude will eventually bring something.

I am blessed to have an awesome and trustworthy community here at CSM that have partnered with me this summer as well as helping me prepare for ministry beyond CSM this summer and next school year. I will miss them when I go home later this week. I will miss the constant knowing that our community was right there willing to challenge and help. I am blessed to have Jessica as a roommate this next year and the fact that she knows what’s going on in my heart and saw all the same things I did just in NYC.

There is a lot going on my heart and mind right now as I transition out of CSM and back into school and whatever else God may have for me. I need to start with solitude. I have to learn to make time for it and see it as a vital part of my life and ministry.

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Cowgirl Boots and Killing Trees

There is a lot of paperwork when you start a new job…like a whole tree’s worth. (if it were a very small tree, more like a thick flower)

That’s where I am right now, just looking at my country music star cowgirl boots (which I promise to wear this summer with my fashion pants!) and filling out paperwork. In reality I am signing my name and filling in the dates and leaving all the other spots blank because I need to call my Daddy (hi Da Da) about some banking q’s and my Momma about my W-4.

And could someone please tell me what all my favorites are, because I’m not a big favorite person and they ask me for my favorite this and that and the other!

I am so excited to find my Amazon gift card and order some of the suggested readings they give us. I want to read most of them, some of them use words in the titles that make me feel stupid. I don’t read books that force me to use the dictionary just to open them 🙂

Today I think God laughed at me a lot. Every time I told some one about Nashy I had to tell them how good God is and how I doubted and He is so much bigger than I could ever dream and loving and merciful. Anyway, I’m sure He got a good chuckle from how sure I was today that He was good compared to how I felt 32 hours ago.

I have been around long enough (ha ha I just wanted to use that phrase) to know that when God starts moving so does the enemy. And within hours I was already feeling it and battling in my heart. I cried multiple times because I knew I just needed to cry then instead of powering through. Slowly and surely He gets through to me.

One of the first things they do in our online “training” is remind us how hard the transistion back “home” will be after the summer. So, I ask you to start praying now. Please pray for me as I prepare my heart to serve and lead this summer. Please pray for me physically and spiritually. Please pray for Nashville that God will just be the foundation of every single little action that comes from us and that love will wash that city.

Please remember my family too. It’s a transition for us all as I become an adult and home will be very different this summer for everyone.

And if you want…….you can wish that I come home with a little bit of accent 🙂

Cowgirl Boots and Killing Trees

Seriously God I DON’T want to learn this lesson

In 2.5 hours it will be April 1st.

Not that I’m counting.

In September God started heavily stirring the messed up pot of my heart to love beyond my boundaries. To love in an area that would really push me, to go to the unlovables, the forgotten, the overlooked and love on them. I filled out an application with a ministry my heart burned for.

In October I turned in the application.

On Halloween I interviewed in Chicago.

God took that fire in my heart and increased it.

At that point they thought they could tell me if I had the job or not the beginning of March.

So I waiting. I practiced patience. I put aside my desire and “need” to know and plan. I said Ok God if you want this let’s do it. I won’t plan my summer without you. I’m willing to go.

So, the second week of March I get an e-mail that it will be the end of March before I hear. I ensure that my name is on every cities list because this is where my heart is.

A week ago one of my best friends interviewed for the same job in NYC. They told her two weeks.

In 2.5 hours it’s April. No longer March when I was “supposed” to hear. I have been patient for the most part, but I’m wearing thin. I mean two weeks is a week or two into April. Am I supposed to plan a backup? When do I say, Ok I can’t wait any longer I have to pursue other leads? When do I get to be impatient?

My heart is with the unlovables. I just want to know.

I don’t want to be patient any longer

BAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Colossians 1:10-12 (New International Version)

10And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully 12giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you[a] to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.

Seriously God I DON’T want to learn this lesson

Faces in your heart

There are people who through the course of our lives make a great impact. Some become our best friends, some are our family, some an unlikely circle of support.  Some are teachers or coaches or speakers who shared insights of wisdom that shanghaid our way of thinking.

And some are “the least of these”

Matthew 25:40
“The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’

For me, these are the faces in my heart. I love all the people I mentioned above, but there is a face that shows up when my heart is blesses or burdened. Anytime my classes talk about an unreached demographic or someone asks me about what I want to do this summer (which I still have not heard about :-/) there is a specific little  face I see. I can’t say for sure why his is the face I see. Maybe it’s because I see him and then think of all the little faces his age back home and their stories are so different. Maybe it’s because the 4 or 5 days I saw him he wore the same thing everyday. Maybe it’s because after that week I knew I wanted to make a difference but am still searching for how. Maybe it is because he was the least of these and I witnessed how a little love changed him.

His name is Anthony.

He was in the third grade when I met him and although he was tall there was no extra meat on his bones. His Adult Medium shirt didn’t help with this visual reminder that resources were limited in his house.

He went to school in the inner city of Chicago and his dark little face was never clean. His shirt, originally white, was stretched out around the neck from games of basketball and doubling as a napkin. It always hung towards his shoulder and got dirtier as the week went on. He wore it everyday. His teacher said it was not uncommon for her students to wear the same clothes for multiple days and sometimes a week. Anthony was one of those kids. He had a temper. He didn’t listen well. He struggled to read kindergarten level books. And he did NOT like me. At least not the first day, and why would he?

Here I was a white girl coming into his school like I knew what was going on; like I could help him. He had already learned that people leave and he knew I was no different. He would not speak to me the first day I was there. Anthony was supposed to come read with me in the hallway one day and he didn’t want to but once he did we sat and read and we did the same thing the rest of the week. He hated coming out in the hallway and looking weak but he was making progress.

By the end of the week he loved me and hugged me hard before I left. I think part of me will always feel like I helped harden him. The teacher explained to the class numerous times that I was just visiting and that my home was far away and I would have to go home but it was still hard to leave them knowing I was just another person who earned their trust and then walked away.

I don’t know where he is today. Hopefully he has found a new shirt, more than one and has escaped the future he and so many others in his school were headed for. He told me his daddy was a pimp (at the time I didn’t even know what that was). Anthony’s scared, hard little face remains in my memory and is etched in my heart. Why? I don’t know. But I do know that it is a reminder to do what I can for who I can.

Who is the face in your heart and why?

Faces in your heart

One Day

With our kids at youth group we are challenging them to be owned by Christ and to own Him. We are challenging them to be aware of how they act at school and home and what that says about them when they say I follow Christ. We are teaching them (sorry Whitney have to say it) to be authentic.

I think it’s something adults and youth leaders have yearly challenged their kids with. And honestly, they learn it best by seeing it acted out by the adults. So, if you’re up for the challenge, start with one day a week and live this song. Pray it, like really pray it. Be warned that it will rock your world in joyous and painful ways. You will lose the support of people while you gain the encouragement of others. You will see pain that you overlooked before and notice how far small acts of Christ-like love carry. You will be heartbroken and healed by the opportunities. You will be scared and confused. You will be changed and have the chance to change the world. And that’s just with one day.

What would your world look like if this is how you viewed it once a week?

What if you began to truly cultivate a heart and eyes like His? What would your life look life if this song became your heart?

Brandon Heath – Give Me Your Eyes

Look down from a broken sky

Traced out by the city lights

My world from a mile high

Best seat in the house tonight

Touch down on the cold black top

Hold on for the sudden stop

Breath in the familiar shock

Of confusion and chaos

All those people going somewhere

Why have I never cared

Give me your eyes for just one second

Give me your eyes so I can see

Everything that I keep missing

Give me your love for humanity

Give me your arms for the broken hearted

The ones that are far beyond my reach

Give me you heart for the ones forgotten

Give me your eyes so I can see

Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah

Step out on a busy street

See a girl and our eyes meet

Does her best to smile at me

To hide what’s underneath

There’s a man just to her right

Black suit and a bright red tie

Too ashamed to tell his wife

He’s out of work, He’s buying time

All those people going somewhere

Why have I never cared

Give me your eyes for just one second

Give me your eyes so I can see

Everything that I keep missing

Give me your love for humanity

Give me your arms for the broken hearted

The ones that are far beyond my reach

Give me you heart for the ones forgotten

Give me your eyes so I can see

Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah

Ive been here a million times

A couple of million eyes

Just move and pass me by

I swear I never thought that I was wrong

Well I want a second glance

So give me a second chance

To see you the way youve seen the people all along

Give me your eyes for just one second

Give me your eyes so I can see

Everything that I keep missing

Give me your love for humanity

Give me your arms for the broken hearted

The ones that are far beyond my reach

Give me you heart for the ones forgotten

Give me your eyes so I can see

Give me your eyes for just one second

Give me your eyes so I can see

Everything that I keep missing

Give me your love for humanity

Give me your arms for the broken hearted

The ones that are far beyond my reach

Give me you heart for the ones forgotten

Give me your eyes so I can see

Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah

Yeah Yeah Yeah Yeah

One Day

I should keep my computer by my bed

I always think of things to post when I’m in bed. 🙂 last night was no exception. I was laying there with my night time music on and heard this song and it just slapped me in the face. Then I checked out for a bit and then heard another song that just built perfectly on the first one.

Bah. I tried to link my itunes to here and can’t figure it out! And well, I don’t much feel like figuring it out. So I will give you lyrics and you will have to use your ninja powers to find the tune if you want it.

The first one is by a new band (in my world) called Nevertheless. The song is I Needed This All Along

I am here
But am I still alive?
You broke me down
But somehow I survived
I never thought that I could leave it
I can't believe it
It's gone

You'll never hear me say
That I wanted it this way
It hurts me every time I breathe
No matter what I'm told
I'm left out feeling cold
But I know I needed this all along

Say farewell
To everything that binds
Take this heart
It was never even mine
I never thought that I could leave it
I can't believe it
It's gone
.
Your bloodstains and scars
Are much worse than ours
And Your breaking and healing
Has taken me this far
I never thought that I could leave it
I can't believe it
It's gone

I was struck with how disappointed we can become with where we are. And well, it's gonna be ok.

Then I heard a Jeremy Camp song called Beyond Measure and one line stuck out to me.

The fog has finally cleared to see,

The beautiful life you’ve given me

To feel the breeze of my newborn’s gentle breath

With one to walk hand in hand,

To share this life that you have planned

It’s like a storybook with dreams

That are meant to see every next step is an extraordinary scene

[CHORUS]

I know that I’ve been,

Given more than beyond measure,

I come alive when,

I see beyond my fears

I know that I’ve been given more than earthly treasure,

I come alive when

I’ve broken down and given you control

I’ve faced a great tragedy,

But have seen the works of what you bring

A display of faith that you give,

I don’t know if I will ever understand

The depth of what it is you’ve done inside,

But I know I  won’t find any worth apart from you

Everything that I have

Has been given so unselfishly

And shown that even when I don’t deserve

You always show the fullness of your love

So, when you find yourself in a place you never would have thought, just know that the fog will clear when you give up control.
Give it up.
Give it up.
Give it up.
Give it up.
Give it up.
Give it up.
Give it up.
I should keep my computer by my bed